World Cooperative Monitor 2021: 10 years of exploring the cooperative economy

6 December 2021


The annual global research report on cooperatives produced by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) with the scientific support of Euricse is now available with insurance again topping the sectoral ranking and ICMIF member IFFCO (India) announced as first in the Top 300 ranking of cooperatives.

The 10th annual World Cooperative Monitor (WCM) report was published last week by the International Cooperative Alliance and Euricse during the ICETT Seminar on 30 November, which was a pre-event of the World Cooperative Congress (1-3 December in Seoul, Republic of Korea). The report explores the economic and social impact of the largest cooperatives and mutuals worldwide, providing a ranking of the Top 300, sector rankings, and an analysis of responses to the COVID-19 recovery and to achieving the SDGs. Ilana Gotz, Chiara Carini and Gianluca Salvatori from Euricse were joined for the occasion by Pete Westall, Chief Values Officer, Midcounties Co-operative (UK) and Bruno Roelants, ICA Director General.

2021 marks the 10th edition of this annual research report and continues the analysis on the reactions of cooperatives to the COVID-19 emergency as well as the actions they plan to implement in the recovery phase and how they are pursuing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The research and collaborations carried out by the ICA and Euricse over the last 10 years have provided the cooperative movement with a significant tool to evaluate its own positioning and have highlighted the importance of cooperation in the world to the public and to policymakers. As a recent example, the UN Secretary General Report on “Cooperatives in Social Development” published in 2019 used the World Cooperative Monitor to highlight the size of the global cooperative sector. The World Cooperative Monitor team works closely with the International Cooperative Entrepreneurship Think Thank (ICETT), a recently formed group of large cooperatives and cooperative groups engaged with ICA in the study and deepening of various issues related to the cooperative world.

The key word for recovery: sustainable development

Besides the economic and employment data of the Top 300 cooperatives and mutuals at the global level, the WCM 2021 edition gives special attention to two key global issues: first the impact of COVID-19 on large cooperatives, focusing on their reactions to the emergency as well as the actions they plan to implement in the recovery phase; second, a continuation of the analysis on how large cooperatives are pursuing the achievement of the SDGs. As for the impact of COVID-19, a series of 29 interviews carried out with large cooperatives around the world showed that participation and attention to members and community focus are key points that have guided cooperatives’ actions in recent months and that could be the pillars for disseminating a business model that embraces the goals promoted by the 2030 Agenda in terms of human rights, fair labour, environmental sustainability, and sustainable growth. These issues, as analysed in the section on SDGs, are already at the centre of many cooperatives’ agendas.

2021 results – insurance sector once again tops the list

The Top 300 cooperatives and mutuals report a total turnover of over two trillion USD (2,180 billion USD), based on 2019 financial data. These organisations operate in various economic sectors, with “insurance” (102 enterprises) and “agriculture” (98 enterprises) leading the list. ICMIF is the insurance sectoral organisation for the ICA. “Wholesale and retail trade” represent the third biggest economic sector (55 enterprises) in the ranking.

This year’s results show that, at the global level, the large cooperative groups are holding their own and turnover is growing slightly. In the Top 300 ranking based on turnover the largest cooperatives are performing well, with only slight variations in the top positions across the sectors. On the podium are the two French financial institutions Groupe Crédit Agricole (with 142,675 FTE employees in 2019) and Groupe BPCE (105,019 employees in 2019) and the German REWE Group (241,691 employees in 2019). Most of the Top 300 enterprises are from the most industrialised countries such as the USA (75 enterprises), France (35 enterprises), Germany (31 enterprises) and Japan (26 enterprises).

In the Top 300 ranking based on the ratio of turnover over gross domestic product (GDP) per capita – which relates the turnover of the enterprise to the wealth of the country – two Indian producer cooperatives reach the first and third positions: ICMIF member IFFCO and Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited. Between them, and in second place is the French Groupe Crédit Agricole.

Leading the insurance sector ranking, based on turnover is Nippon Life (Japan) leads the ranking; Groupe Crédit Agricole leads the “Financial services” sector; and Sistema Unimed (Brazil) ranks top in the Education, “Health and social work” sector.

Bruno Roelants, Director-General of the ICA, said: “The World Cooperative Monitor remains a significant tool for the global cooperative movement, helping it not only evaluate its own positioning but also highlight the importance of cooperatives to the general public and policymakers. Over the last ten years the Monitor has helped to deepen our understanding of various cooperative sectors and areas of impact. In addition to the Top 300 rankings, this year’s edition includes two chapters exploring how cooperatives can build back better from the pandemic and contribute to achieving the SDGs. The findings will be presented on 30 November at the World Cooperative Congress in Seoul and online, where delegates from all over the world will join in the conversation on how to deepen our cooperative identity.”

Gianluca Salvatori, Euricse Secretary General, said: “Over the course of these ten years, the World Cooperative Monitor has helped us analyse and deepen our understanding of the largest cooperative enterprises. The scientific rigor, along with contributions from cooperatives sharing their experiences, has rendered the report a valuable tool for the cooperative movement and beyond.”

Download the World Cooperative Monitor here.

For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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