Business

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Coop

Story featured in the Made in Countdown 2010 publication


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Action

Acknowledging that organic production assures better sustainable management of resources and can increase biodiversity, Coop – the first Swiss supermarket chain – felt the need to act. The company fosters organic agriculture at various levels: it has established a close partnership with Bio Suisse (Swiss organic farmers association, www.bio-suisse.ch) and launched the organic brand Naturaplan. Coop also finances research and sourcing projects at the Research Institute for Organic Farming (FiBL) and cooperates with Remei AG (www.remei.ch) on organic cotton project involving more than 10,000 farmers in India and Tanzania. Coop also promotes biodiversity measures in 50 organic farms in Switzerland.

In 2010, Coop has launched a large-scale participatory campaign focused on the importance of biodiversity. The campaign includes hands-on action enabling customers to sow wildflower seeds of endangered species. Coop pays an amount equal to saving 1 m2 of dry meadows for each participant to Pro Natura (www.pronatura.ch), the biggest Swiss environmental protection association. In collaboration with Swiss rapper Stress, Coop produced a special song for a TVcommercial which heralds a wake-up call for the biodiversity crisis (www.coop.ch/nachhaltigkeit).

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Before

In the last 50 years farmers have increasingly been using more intensive agricultural practices to boost yield. This has led to the degradation of agricultural and semi-natural ecosystems and caused the decline of biodiversity in large areas.

Now

In just a few months since the launch of the biodiversity campaign, consumers’ awareness of biodiversity has increased and 1,000,000 packages of wildflower seeds of endangered species have been distributed, contributing to save at least 240,000 m2 of dry meadows in Switzerland. By making organic products available to the broad population, organic agriculture stepped out of the niche. Today 8% of the food sold in Coop stores is organic, and more than 2,000 organic food products in its assortment are labelled with the bud of Bio Suisse as a quality seal of Naturaplan. Annual sales of Coop organic cotton products have increased to 65 million Swiss francs in 2009.

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Photo: A Swiss organic farmer Peter Zahner, whose animal and plant paradise can be preserved thanks to Coop enabling to sell the fruit from his standard trees © Marius Born, Winterthur