Cultivating innovation and creating value - European Agri-cooperatives' business as usual

Almost 150 representatives of European agri-cooperatives gathered today in Brussels for the award ceremony of the six winners of the 5th  European  Award  for  Cooperative Innovation, organised by Cogeca and sponsored by the Spanish cooperative bank Cajamar Caja Rural. The edition saw more than 100 applications showcasing many interesting and groundbreaking innovations that deliver value under the economic, social and  environmental  pillars  of  sustainability.  The  number  and  the  quality  of submissions  from  across  Europe  confirm  that  agricultural  transitions  are already underway in all domains, driven by the cooperative enterprises. A proof that for agri-cooperatives business as usual is cultivating innovation and finding ways to create value for its members and communities.

On the occasion, Ramon Armengol, Cogeca President congratulated the winners and all applicants and underlined, "This 5th edition is a special one. It was launched at the beginning of the pandemic. At the beginning of a crisis that has required our enterprises to continue to adjust their business model. Great innovate efforts had been put in place to ensure food security, readjust the mechanisms of the value chain, remain competitive on the market, and address the arising needs of consumers and our food chain partners. Once again our cooperatives have demonstrated their resilience, their capacity and their commitment. Today we are facing a new crisis with the conflict in Ukraine and the impact on the markets and we need to strengthen this resilience even further by cooperating and innovating. I am particularly proud to see that many cooperatives are already engaging in delivering results in support of the aspirational targets that we committed to with Copa and Cogeca's signature of the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices, which is one of the first deliverables of the Farm to Fork Strategy and an integral part of its action plan."

The 6 winners include two Spanish, one Polish, one Irish, one Belgian and one Swedish cooperative:

•              Mans cooperative (ES) won the social value creation award for their actions towards people with difficulties, especially young people at risk of social exclusion.

•              The Belgian association of fruit and vegetable cooperatives (BE) won the award for  traceability  and  consumer  information  for  its  project  "Care4Growing",  a multifunctional  platform  around  data  gathering  and  digitalisation  creating  new analytical  capabilities  that  enable  cooperatives  and  their  members  to  optimise  their performance in the supply chain.

•              The  Glanbia  cooperative (IE)  won the  prize for  support to farmer-members for  its Twenty20 Beef Club project, an innovative beef production model that is integrated right across the supply chain and has at its heart the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of its Farmer Members.

•              The  Piatnica  cooperative (PL)  won  the  prize  for  innovative  product  for  its  unique valorisation of whey protein that are upgraded to create a fresh whey protein consumer cocktail. It is the first and only such product on the Polish market.

•              The  Càmara  Arrossera  del  Montsià  cooperative (ES)  won  the  bioeconomy  and circularity prize for its ORYZITE project, a plastic substitute made from rice husks. This new material is the result of a circular economy project and the valorisation of rice byproducts after more than 10 years of research.

•              Lantmännen cooperative (SE)  won  the  natural  resources  and  biodiversity  award  for  its ThermoSeed  project,  a  unique  biological  method  that  treats  seeds  to  make  them  free from  seed-borne  infections,  reducing  the  need  for  pesticides  within  agriculture, benefiting the environment as well as reducing costs for the farmer.

These winners were the frontrunners in their categories among many great applications received in this 5th edition of the award. For those wishing to know more about the different innovations put in place by agri-cooperatives across the EU, please find here the brochure with the presentation of all finalists and their projects that were also awarded today with a special prize for their outstanding achievements.

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