Reckoning with the New Reality
Monday, June 7, 2021, 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. CT
2020 was a challenging and exhausting year for food retailers, including retail food co-ops. It also saw co-ops doing remarkable things in response to the challenges we faced, confronting uncertainty and leading our organizations forward even when the path was not clear. Since no one has a crystal ball, co-ops need to be aware of and prepare for a variety of future possibilities.
2021 will bring additional challenges and change. Our co-ops grapple with continued industry and environmental changes, evolving and contrasting consumer needs, and business pressures that threaten long-term sustainability. The good news is that many of the strategies we leaned on in 2020 will continue to serve us going forward, specifically: leading with intention; a willingness to experiment, learn and adapt; and the courage to let go of ideas, attitudes and practices that no longer serve us well.
In this session, NCG will talk about the state of Retail Food Co-ops in a V.U.C.A (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) landscape. We will share with attendees the next set of challenges we need to be willing to face, and provide context for understanding them. These challenges include:
- Sustaining efforts to make our co-ops more diverse, equitable and inclusive spaces
- Building a tolerance for experimentation and flexibility in what we offer to shoppers
- The reality of price inflation, and what it will mean for our co-ops and shoppers
- The tension between product attributes that define quality at many retail food co-ops (local, organic, fair trade or non-exploitive), and those that define accessibility (familiar, convenient and most of all, affordable)
- The need for higher wages and what needs to happen to accommodate higher wages and still be viable businesses
Finally, we will discuss the importance of board and management alignment, and of supporting difficult decisions needed to sustain the business. We will discuss some ways that boards can collaborate with management to chart a path through uncertainty based on cooperative values and principles and the strategic vision.
Dave Olson, Senior Director of Retail Support, National Co+op Grocers
C.E. Pugh, CEO, National Co+op Grocers
Prasanna Regmi, Co-op Resource Manager, National Co+op Grocers