Who’s Atop Global Co-ops?

Top 300 cooperatives account for more than $2.5 trillion in revenue, report says

Source: World Cooperative Monitor

QUÉBEC CITY—Put it this way: If the behemoth National Football League was a cooperative, it would have a hard time cracking the top 50.

That gives you some insight into the global reach of cooperative businesses.

The 2016 World Cooperative Monitor was released in conjunction with the International Summit of Cooperatives, held Oct. 11-13 at the Québec City Convention Centre.

When the document was launched in 2012, the 300 largest cooperatives and mutual organizations in the world had annual revenues—called “turnover” in the report— of less than $2 trillion in U.S. dollars, said Charles Gould, director-general of the International Cooperative Alliance.

“This year, that is at $2.5 trillion. So that is incredible growth, year after year, for cooperatives. We think that sends a strong message,” Gould told the summit.

Included in that strong message are big numbers from electric cooperatives, which placed two members in the top 300.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative in Bismarck, North Dakota, was 215th, up 14 places from a year ago, with turnover of $2.25 billion. Oglethorpe Power Corp. in Tucker, Georgia, was 300th, with turnover of $1.41 billion.

Within the overall study, U.S. electric co-ops dominated the industry and utilities category with 11 in the top 20.

Behind Basin and Oglethorpe were Tri-State G&T Association, Westminster, Colorado, at $1.4 billion; Central Electric Power Cooperative Inc., Columbia, South Carolina, at $1.3 billion; and Great River Energy, Maple Grove, Minnesota, at $1.2 billion.

Those were just some of the 1,420 cooperatives across 52 countries with annual revenues of at least $100 million in U.S. dollars, according to the report.

From a global perspective, though, energy cooperatives are relatively small.

Topping all categories are the insurance and agricultural/food groups. Though they comprised less than half of the co-ops in the monitor, they constituted about 64 percent of all co-ops with revenues of $100 million or more.

The largest cooperative in the world is Group Crédit Agricole, a banking and financial services firm based in France, with more than $90 billion in annual revenue. It placed tenth a year ago.

Two other banking and financial services co-ops followed—BVR of Germany and Groupe BCPE of France.

NH Nonghyup, a Korean-based agriculture and food co-op, placed fourth, narrowly ahead of State Farm Insurance, the largest mutual insurance company in the world.

Oh, the NFL? As it features games in Europe and Mexico as part of a global outreach, it will make an estimated $13 billion in 2016.

The monitor’s data, which comes from 2014 totals, cut off at $13 billion for the top 50.

The fifth edition of the monitor is based on information submitted by 2,370 cooperatives from 63 countries. The International Cooperative Alliance produced the report in conjunction with the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises.

Steven Johnson is a staff writer at NRECA.