The word “cooperative” means working together.
This is what the fruit and vegetable producers do. Instead of selling their products on the local and international markets individually, the mainly family-owned businesses have grouped themselves together and formed cooperatives.
The cooperative is a business model that is defined by democratic decision-making. Membership is voluntary and open. The cooperative members, who maintain their autonomy and independence, are co-owners and have a say in the management of the cooperative.
Cooperative collaboration has been a rising trend across different sectors over the last few years. However, in our fruit and vegetable sector, it has been around for a long time. With us, the cooperative spirit is structurally embedded, and offers a wide array of benefits. Though it is sometimes a challenge to convince everybody of this.
Typically, a cooperative will not strive for profit. Rather, it will look to maximise its goal, namely getting their member-producers a fair price for their products. Jointly approaching the markets gives producers more leverage.
The clock auction system plays an important role in the cooperatively organised fruit and vegetable sector in Belgium. Freshly delivered products are immediately put on offer and sold at the price they are valued at when the clock counts down. In this way, we are able to guarantee fresh, safe and sustainable fruit and vegetables.
The advantages of working in cooperatives
In good and bad times
Of course, the VBT cooperatives do everything in their power to win as much of the national and international markets as possible for their members. But, just as it’s the case now for the entire agricultural sector, the horticultural sector is under pressure. The search for alternative outlets isn’t always that easy. But the strength of the cooperatives helps the sector through periods of hardship.