NCG Responds to Santa Fe-Based “Take Back the Co-op” Campaign Claims

Sep 21, 2016

Iowa City, IA — National Co+op Grocers (NCG) — a business services co-op for 150 independent, community-owned and locally-governed co-ops nationwide — today is responding to claims from the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based “Take Back the Co-op” campaign.

“We believe strongly in the cooperative principles and respect the rights of co-op owners everywhere to voice their hopes and concerns for the future of their co-op,” said C.E. Pugh, Chief Operating Officer, NCG. “However, we feel this campaign grossly mischaracterizes NCG, its purpose and its relationship with its member and associate co-ops, as well as the benefits offered by CDS Consulting Co-op and UNFI. We take issue with these false claims and want to provide clarity.”

NCG is a cooperative owned and governed by food co-ops.

NCG was formed by La Montañita and over 100 other independent food co-ops. Every co-op has a designated representative to NCG, usually the co-op’s general manager, and these representatives duly elect NCG’s board from their peers.

NCG exists for the express purpose of helping co-ops thrive.

NCG offers a variety of purchasing, management, development and marketing services and facilitates direct co-op-to-co-op support and peer networking. NCG also advocates on behalf of co-ops on a number of issues, prioritized by our owners, in the areas of sustainable food systems, fair treatment of people and a healthy environment. While not a chain, NCG does seek to provide food co-ops with many of the advantages that large chain stores enjoy, while still enabling them to reflect the unique qualities of their local communities. Membership in NCG is voluntary, as is participation in NCG’s programs and services.

La Montañita Co-op and all NCG co-ops are self-governing.

Every food co-op is independently community owned and governed. Individual co-ops are autonomous in their governance, purchasing and staffing decisions and all other aspects of store operations. All business decisions are made by co-ops’ locally elected board of directors and/or management.

NCG works to provide cost savings for co-ops so they can invest more in their local communities.

As purchasing agent for its co-ops, NCG aggregates volume to lower costs on products sold to consumers as well as products and services that support operations. For example, NCG negotiates with UNFI to secure improved costs and deeper promotional discounts. NCG’s purchasing agreements save co-ops millions of dollars and offer time-savings so that co-op staff can focus on forming deeper connections with local suppliers and other activities that positively impact their local communities.

NCG helps co-ops grow because it believes a thriving co-op economy is beneficial to all.

NCG isn’t focused on growth for growth’s sake. The grocery industry is increasingly competitive, consumer shopping behaviors are quickly evolving and demographics are increasingly diverse. NCG helps co-ops understand and navigate these changes so they can continue to meet their owner needs, attract new shoppers and owners and expand the benefits of the cooperative economy to more people and more communities.

Conspiracy claims lack merit.

CDS Consulting Co-op is a shared services co-op of independent consultants with absolutely no connection to UNFI. The consultants who work with CDS Consulting Co-op have a deep commitment to and understanding of cooperative ownership. Their purpose is to help make co-ops stronger by providing a wide variety of services to retail food co-ops. Like NCG, CDS CC works to support successful, independent food co-ops and is a resource that individual co-ops can work with on a voluntary basis. NCG greatly respects the services CDS Consulting Co-op offers.

“We know that co-ops and the cooperative economy are more sustainable when we work collectively to meet more needs and serve more people,” Pugh added. “Especially during a time of such intense competition within the entire grocery sector, we hope the supporters of ‘Take Back the Co-op’ can realize we indeed are stronger when we are together.”

About NCG

National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 150 member and associate co-ops operate more than 200 storefronts in 38 states with combined annual sales of nearly $2 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corporation. Find a map of NCG member and associate co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit

# # #

Media inquiries may be directed to Eric Davis (; 612-424-7545).