The latest ranking of the world’s 300 largest co-operatives confirms the strength and endurance of our business sector, with total turnover exceeding $3 trillion NZD according to the latest research.

The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) and Euricse, the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, published its sixth annual World Co-operative Monitor to coincide with the ICA’s Global Co-operative Conference in Malaysia.

The publication reports on the world’s largest co-operative and mutual organisations, providing a ranking of the Top 300 and analysis based on 2015 financial data. The 2017 Monitor collected data for 2,379 organisations, 1,436 of which had a turnover of more than USD100m (NZD 147m). The Top 300 co-ops and mutuals report a total turnover of USD 2.16 trillion (NZD 3.17 trillion).

The world’s top 300 co-ops operate in different sectors: insurance (41%), agriculture (30%), wholesale and retail trade (19%), banking and financial services (6%), industry and utilities (1%), health, education and social care (1%) and other services (1%).

The outgoing ICA President, Monique Leroux, said the co-op sector needed to have the facts and figures on hand when it speaks to socio-economic leaders around the world.

“We generate a considerable amount of economic activity, always with an eye to community development. It is important to valorize (quantify) our gains and growth,” said Ms Leroux.

This year, the French banking group Crédit Agricole remains atop the top 300, followed by Kaiser Permanente and State Farm, two US-based insurers.

Gianluca Salvatori, CEO of Euricse, said:

In addition to the rankings based on the US Dollar, we have added this year rankings using the International Dollar as calculated by the World Bank. It gives us an idea of the purchasing power parity of the co-operative, helping to understand the relative size and removing possible distortions caused by currency conversion rates.”

New this year is the trend analysis on the top co-operatives and mutuals by sector of activity. The analysis shows the performance of the largest co-operatives and mutuals from 2011 to 2015 showing the strength and stability of the co-operative sector throughout the crisis when many shareholder business were suffering losses.

Another addition to this year’s report is the analysis of the capital structure of not only the Top 300, but also a sample of smaller co-operatives and mutuals, allowing for comparison of different types of co-operative business. The results of this research show that large co-operatives and mutuals do not have specific problems raising capital related to the co-operative business model, though smaller co-operatives do have some challenges mostly related to obtaining internal capital and long-term debt.

“The financial statement data of the Top 300 reveals a situation that does not support the traditional theory of co-operative capital”, concludes the report. “Rather, the analysis shows a sector with good capitalization, in financial equilibrium and with sufficient profitability to support growth.”

In their recommendations, the authors of the report add:

“Given these results, for the large co-operatives a possible and important policy would be to stimulate, using the new internally generated capital resources as well, investments in research and development, i.e. in innovation.”