In a food retailing first, we’re taking member involvement a step further and asking members to directly input into what’s being stocked on our shelves.

As a colleague member you already know that you have a democratic say in our Co-op through voting and motions at our AGM. You may also have decided to get involved and join in with various activities and votes via your Membership account over the last 10 months. Now we’re handing the reins over to members to design a new white wine that will be stocked on our shelves from October.

From choosing the grape variety through to the label, we’re putting the final say in the hands of members just like you. Joe Turner, Wine buyer says “Co-op performance in white wine is showing significant growth ahead of the market.  The member wine initiative brings a bit of fun to the wine category and we’re really excited to see what our members come up with.” Read more about this on our Co-op blog and then cast your vote (be quick – the first vote to decide on the grape variety closes on Monday 27 March).

So, if you’ve ever fancied yourself as a winemaker but the thought of standing barefoot in a barrel crushing grapes isn’t for you, then this opportunity might be right up your street. And just imagine being able to hand over a bottle as a Christmas present (sorry – too early to be thinking about that?) and saying that you had a hand in making it.

If you could design a new product to be sold in our stores, what would it be…?

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. “In a food retailing first, ”

    Kevin. Are you aware you work for the Co-operative Group Co-op? ???

    i.e. a UK co-op descended from Rochdale Pioneers, a big UK farmer (until retreat of the last decade), dairy (until the 80s), tea blender and manufacturer (until the 90s).

    Bit concerned you think you work elsewhere. Read that payslip of yours man, you’ll have people questioning if you make much sense.

    • Hi. Yes indeed, I certainly know who I work for and our rich heritage. The ‘first’ here is that we’re inviting our circa 4 million members to all have a say in the design of the product. I’m not sure that all members were invited to have a say in what blend of tea we used or how the packaging looked when it was produced? I’m not sure why you think I work elsewhere with this story or is it a different point you’re making? And if we did used to involve our members in the decisions behind the products we sold – their development, their design etc – then please do share the stories as perhaps this is more about ‘going back to what we used to do’ rather than a ‘first’, in which case, I’d be delighted to be corrected. ^Kevin

      • Hi Kevin,

        Just because involving ‘the members’ ‘off campus’ is a foreign concept in the early 21st C at Co-op group headquarters does not mean co-operation such as you envisage is anything new in the co-op.

        it is a perennial part of the human condition to want to believe we are doing something for the first time; with 5 thousand years plus of human activity, and for that matter _social_and _oral_ activity like this_ thats highly unlikely, honorable exceptions being something like the moon landings.

        I am not saying what you are preparing to start doing today was done well or reviewed/redone often enough in the past by that payslip issuing body the members created and you latterly work for. With the exception of area and regional committees, who desperately remind us they were members too as regarding the growing of apple cider on co-op farms say, this is a return to a old idea at the group so great.

        All that aside asking member owners where and how they want to spend their capital,time and petty development cash on their own products, democracy and services IS NOT new. It is in fact Co-Operation, as in co-working together between consumers and consumer held capital in all its forms in joint or some might say ‘co’ -operation of their societies to provide quality goods and services at reasonable prices.IE not a new idea.

        Having enough people willing to pay in time and life for co-operation has been a issue of late, but the roll out of co-op mobile payg sims in co-op group stores has been a recent (if commercially not fully successful) member development in the last three years. , which the members were able to slip by the Manchester HQ without to much fuss (the proviso being they and I were members of a different co-op society, and those decisions and involvements were at member meetings only open to the 12,000 co-operators of that society and not to the 4.4 million of this society).

        I think the moon landing on this front occurred on the 13 December 1846 in a small town called Rochdale Kevin and I suspect colleagues at the co-op archives or woodcraft folk would love your interest and time to speak to you about co-op development in the run up to your new project, which I wish you well with. It is a important point that you are even being allowed to go ahead with this venture and that may be a welcome change.

        Best Regards, and I wish you success with your project to contemplate bringing back co-operation in CWS/Group manufacturing, a worthwhile endeavour.

        L Blakey

        PS. I have responded to your problematic point about the CWS Tea Blending operation, CWS international logistics and haulage operation and the CWS and independant shop sales of tea below. In detail the position is slightly closer to my point of view than you may realise, but some might say its ancient history now and hardly matters that the members once owned factories, canals, shipping lines, and tea plantations and the like. Being as CWS tea has been a commercial success for over a century now and members do have some say in commercial sucess, all that may well come out in the wash.:

        “I’m not sure that all members were invited to have a say in what blend of tea we used or how the packaging looked” .

        The simple answer is they were and I am. The bastardised term you use there is ‘invited’. Please remember if members wished to walk into the freehold properties they owned outright after the Toad lane experiment proved to be a success and be forthright on some issue they simply did it. If a quorum decided their management should develop some blend and stock or not stock it from their factory holdings under the CWS then the management had to have some face to ignore it. That Being as the membership owned the whole edifice and all.a product can be designed sure, but it does have to be bought and member committees and members individually do do the buying of tea for their homes and own businesses/workplaces.

        The less simple answer is the process was and is difficult and may not have been done at all well for years and years before you or I were born. On packaging again that has been handed over to paid rather than unpaid committees for generations now. Packaging was rather simpler back at the dawn of time.

        The CWS Tea blending operations on behalf of the independent societies and overseas stockists are easy to forget now because deputations and committees of members no longer exist within within the CWS manufacturing structure(# funeral coffins???), but members decisions on capital expenditure and two steps removed member decisions on whether to even involve ourselves with the CWS operation in addition to the local co-op generally, or a single pound of blended tea specifically where a core feature and co-op difference from the private companies and corner shops back then.

        120 blends plus were stocked by CWS and the skilled technical experts employed by the CWS, only those blends that got orders from independent society’s got actually dispatched and only those blends member owners actually bought in store went out the door. A century later only 1 or three or so many blends remain on co-op shelves, and the blending operation and the plantations that grew the tea no longer remain within community ownership, long ago privatised. All history long past and today is a new day.

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Food, Membership