Key statistics about world's largest cooperatives from 2007


"$1 trillion in revenue Listed among the Global 300 are some of the world’s largest businesses. The Global 300 co-ops had total revenue of nearly $1 trillion in 2004. If they were a nation, these 300 co-ops would have the 10th largest gross domestic product in the world, ranking just behind Canada. The United States is home to more of the Global 300 than any other nation, with 62 (or nearly 20 percent of the total list). It is followed by France, with 45, then Germany with 33 and Italy with 28 co-ops on the list. Cooperatives in these four countries represent more than 50 percent of the Global 300.

Japan, however, is home to both the No. 1 and 2 ranked businesses. Topping the Global 300 is Zen-Noh, a national federation of agriculture and food cooperatives that had revenue of $53.8 billion in 2004 (see sidebar). Also included in the Global 300 are: the largest rice miller and marketer in the world; the largest employer in Switzerland; the largest bank in France and the largest food processor in India. The largest U.S. business on the list is Columbus, Ohiobased Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. (which is owned by its policy holders), at No. 4, with $23.7 billion in annual revenue. The next highest ranked U.S. cooperative is CHS Inc., a federated agribusiness cooperative, which had sales of $10.9 billion in 2004. The next-ranked U.S. co-ops were DFA at 22, LoL at 28 and Wakefern Foods, a food retailing co-op with $7.1 billion in 2004 sales, at No. 30. Built to last Since cooperatives are generally organized for the benefit of members rather than to earn profits for investors, they tend to take a longer term view with respect to their operations. That is not to say that cooperatives don’t look at the bottom line, but rather that they have other objectives that focus more on the long-term survival of the business. This is illustrated by how long many of these cooperatives have existed. Nearly half of the Global 300 cooperatives were established prior to 1940. Indeed, more than 13 percent were formed prior to the 1900s. That’s right: more than 1 in 10 of the Global 300 cooperatives have been around for more than 100 years. Businesses do not turn the century mark unless they have consistently met a strong need better than their competition. Three groups or business sectors make up more than 80 percent of the Global 300. These sectors include agriculture, financial institutions (including insurance, banking, credit unions and diversified financial organizations) and retailing/wholesaling businesses. More than one-third of the Global 300 cooperatives are involved in agriculture. Nearly every country represented in the Global 300 has at least one agriculture cooperative represented in the list of 300 cooperatives."

David S. Chesnick, and Carolyn B. Liebrand, "Global 300 list reveals world’s largest cooperatives," (USDA Rural Development, Cooperative Programs: January, 2007) Accessed on April 15, 2014. http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/pub/jan07/global.htm [verified 4/15/14]

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