The state of New Zealand's co-operative economy

Cooperative Business NZ has released The New Zealand Co-operative Economy report.

By Roz Henry, CEO Cooperative Business NZ
9 Sep 2021
read time
30 min to read

Cooperative Business NZ has released The New Zealand Co-operative Economy report. It provides insight into New Zealand's position as one of the most co-operative economies in the world with a high proportion of member-owned businesses, including household names such as Fonterra, Farmlands, Mitre 10, Zespri, Foodstuffs and Southern Cross Health Society.

New Zealand’s top 30 co-operatives contribute 13 percent of New Zealand’s GDP by revenue, earning nearly $42 billion in 2020. It reveals that our co-operatives have a staggering 1.5 million members, with the top 30 enabling job opportunities to a significant portion of the workforce with 41,000 employees.

Around 72 percent of New Zealand’s co-operatives are in the agri-food sector and have achieved increased revenues of around 10 percent since 2015. These agri-food co-operatives have been performing well with strong growth in revenue and assets, indicating a resistance and strong response to the economic impacts of Covid-19.

Those in the insurance, banking and finance sector have also performed strongly, with revenue growth over 40 percent since 2015.

The Co-operatives business model has a long history in New Zealand and is successfully applied across multiple sectors and has become fundamental to the way New Zealanders do business and deliver goods and services.

The vast spread of sectors outlined in the report shows how versatile the model is. Not only that, it brings to the forefront that some of New Zealand’s most enduring businesses are co-operatives. They’re multi-generational, sustainable and community-focussed ensuring profits, and their businesses’ positive social and environmental impacts, continue to be circled back into New Zealanders’ lives.

The researchers highlighted that the key challenges facing the co-operative sector included raising capital, labour shortages, and reducing emissions to comply with the Climate Change Response Act 2002.

There are opportunities to work closely with the New Zealand Government, educators and business community to address these challenges and ensure New Zealand’s co-operatives continue to thrive.

­­The report also recognises the opportunity for future businesses to be established using the model. It shares why understanding and supporting New Zealand co-operatives is important and how Cooperative Business NZ can implement this with various partners.

See more in the video presentation above and read the report


Roz Henry profile picture

Roz Henry is CEO of Cooperative Business New Zealand. Cooperative Business New Zealand is the industry body that unites and represents New Zealand’s diverse range of member-owned businesses. As the peak body, our aim is to increase awareness of the important contribution co-operative organisations make to New Zealand’s economy and society.

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