By Caroline Sellers, Assistant Secretary 

There’s less than a week left to have your say at this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elections, with voting closing on Monday 10 May at midday. 

Ahead of the meeting, you can vote in our Member Nominated Director election and vote to elect your local Members’ Council representatives.  You can also have your say on motions including sustainable consumption and production, climate change, and food poverty. Read more about these motions here. 

When you vote on our motions at the AGM, you’re giving us your view on how we run our Co-op and helping to shape the campaigns we work on. And to show the difference using your vote can make, here are just a few things we’ve achieved since last year’s AGM: 

Ethical retailing 

Our own brand vegan range, Gro, launched in January 2020 and offers approximately 50 products. We celebrated Veganuary with a full GRO marketing campaign, encouraging our customers to try the GRO brand and incorporate plant-based eating into their diets. 

We’ve developed a new Fairtrade 5 year strategy to grow the contribution we make to Fairtrade producers and set new public measures for Fairtrade performance in our Co-operate sustainability report. We’ve built on our ambition to strengthen Fairtrade producer communities by launching our Global Wellbeing Charter, and we reallocated close to £1 million of funds to support producer communities in tackling the pandemic. 

We continue to expand our Fairtrade range of products, including in the launch of our Everground Fairtrade coffee brand and Honest Value range. 

In 2020 we removed 18,775,284 teaspoons of sugar from own brand products. This year we’ve enriched own brand food-to-go sandwiches with fibre and are launching 31 new health focused products and reformulating an existing 30 health focused products. This activity will expand in 2022. 

Climate Change 

We’ve published leading targets which have been reviewed and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) (a coalition of leading NGOs including WWF, WRI, UN Global Compact).  

Over and above our priority commitments to reduce our carbon footprint, we’ve announced additional commitments that our operations will go carbon neutral from 2021 and that our Co-op own brand food products will go carbon neutral from 2025.  

We recognise that Climate Change is a humanitarian crisis as well as an environmental one. We’re committed to a Fair Transition and are working with our partners, suppliers and farmers to help achieve this. Smallholder farmers in the global south are disproportionately affected by climate change. In 2020, we worked with our Fairtrade coffee and banana producers to build climate resilience and support producer communities to adapt to climate challenges.  

We’ve worked closely with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) during 2020 to agree a roadmap not just for ourselves to achieve these stretching commitments, but for the retail sector to do so together. So far, 62 retailers have joined us and signed up to a joint plan to reach net zero GHG emissions by 2040, across our businesses as well as our supply chains, 10 years ahead of international agreements.  

Support for the wider Co-operative movement 

During the first phase of lockdown, we provided much needed advice and support to smaller co-operatives in partnership with the Plunkett Foundation.  

We played a central role in the Summer’s Co-op Fortnight activities highlighting the part co-ops were playing in response to the pandemic, with a record social media reach of 12.5m. 

Throughout the year, we’ve campaigned alongside others in the sector on issues of common concern such as colleague safety and provision of free school meals.  

We started the development of resources with the Co-op College to ensure our Member Pioneers and Co-op Academies are able to grow their understanding of co-operation. 

Vote by midday on Monday 10 May 

Using your vote at our AGM makes a huge difference. 

If eligible, you’ll have received an invitation to vote via email (from vote@agm.coop.co.uk) or in the post. To be eligible to vote, you must have spent £250 at Co-op Food in 2020 or bought a product from one of our other businesses. Check if you’re eligible by logging into your membership account or emailing AGM@coop.co.uk

The AGM will be held at 10am on Saturday 15 May and you can join us on Zoom. Register your interest here

If you’ve got any questions about the AGM, please email us at AGM@coop.co.uk

For a full update on our 2020 AGM motions take a look at our ‘You said, we did’ booklet.