Practical solutions for the food paradoxes.

Milan Protocol



ANCC-Coop and Coop Italy have joined to the "Protocol of Milan" because Coop has always been involved in important initiatives regarding food and environmental sustainability through the organization of consumer projects which benefit Italian consumers and in other information and training activities concerning responsible consumption. In over thirty years, these many projects have involved thousands of schools, students, teachers and families.

Coop is an organization of cooperatives with eight million consumers and this is why our primary objectives include the protection of citizens' rights which are at the very heart of our policies and our actions.

The sustainability of economic development, i.e., a good balance between food production and the exploitation of the resources of our planet, is one of the key criteria behind the strategies of Coop according to the simple principle that "being sustainable today means ensuring a better future for the generations to come ".

In this context, the participation of Coop in EXPO 2015 as an Official Premium Partner for the realization of the Supermarket of the Future is a natural choice. Our participation, in this global context which looks far into the future, represents an important opportunity to reaffirm our values and to contribute to building a clearer and more accessible culture regarding food and the environment which will help the general awareness of citizens in their consumer choices.

Coop is very interested in the proposal of the Milan Protocol on Food and Nutrition for two reasons. Firstly, it focuses on the three global challenges (reduction in food waste; promotion of sustainable agriculture; eradication of hunger and obesity) which are geopolitically very important regarding agriculture and food. Secondly, at the same time, it invites institutions, businesses, citizens and civil organizations to discuss issues concerning the unsustainability of the current consumption levels of resources which are seriously damaging the environment, and in this way, it can promote a process of active and collaborative participation which will hopefully help the "community"  become better aware of our and our planet's future.

Coop has always been committed to tackling global themes and issues at local level through a series  of initiatives which involve members and consumers in such a way that each of them feel they are an active part of concrete projects involving food and environmental issues.
Regarding our fight against food waste, since 2003, Coop, through the projects Buon Fine, Brutti ma Buoni and Spreco Utile, has been donating unsellable goods to charities. In 2013, we donated to 900 voluntary charity organizations about 4,000 tons of commercially unsellable food products but which were still perfectly edible, for a value of 23,000,000 Euros. This food would have alternatively been simply thrown away. In this way, we helped about 140,000 people in need.

Concerning proper nutrition and promotion of healthy lifestyles, in order to combat the social and health impact of diseases induced by excessive food intake, Coop has organized many campaigns which promote sensible eating and adequate exercise for consumers. We have also promoted a series of initiatives regarding the development or reformulation of products, with the support of scientific institutions, in order to raise awareness in families on the importance of proper nutrition in childhood.

With regard to policies that promote sustainable agriculture, Coop prefers to favor those production models, such as organic and integrated farming, which use our natural resources and energy more efficiently, which have a low impact on natural habitats and which guarantee ethical principles such as solidarity and self-development.

With the development of our own-brand products, we were the first to introduce strict criteria concerning safety, traceability and reduction of environmental impact. We have contributed to the creation of production chains and marketing procedures that have had a significant impact on the economy and on society in general. A particularly positive example of this can be seen in the fresh goods sector.

Coop has long been involved in the support of small producers in the southern hemisphere and we apply strict ethical and environmental codes when purchasing goods for our consumers.

We intend to share our experience with the other organizations, associations, and institutions who support this document, introducing some considerations that we feel are particularly relevant in the light of what has been set out above. More specifically, we would like:

1. to emphasize the importance of transparency and access to information for all consumers in matters pertaining to goods and food–related services: characteristics, origins, production and marketing procedures. Coop also firmly believes in the role of schools in nutrition education, in combating childhood obesity and in the reduction of food waste in households.

2. to highlight the possible role of the large retailer network in ensuring high quality and safe food for everyone, starting from the less privileged. In this sense, Coop operates so that the entire large retailer network is able and willing to collaborate with producers and with the food industry, according to guidelines set out by national and international public institutions.

3. to help develop forms of collaboration throughout the agro-food industry in order to offer more guarantees to consumers and small producers. To this end, the experiences of cooperatives can make a significant contribution to the common good on a national and global scale.

4. to promote production systems and business models based on the concept of ample participation and democratic management in order to help create a market which better meets the needs of the people, especially when the food being exchanged is to be considered much more than just a simple alimentary product, but rather a deeply rooted form of nutrition, health, identity, culture, and territorial identity.

5. to encourage, also through appropriate legislation, the fight against food waste by improving the efficiency of the agro-food chain, reducing waste in households and donating unsold food to charities.

The fundamental importance of the issues mentioned in the Protocol of Milan concerning the sustainable "feeding of the world" from a social, environmental and economic point of view requires the firm commitment of all the economic and institutional bodies which will be involved in Expo 2015. In this sense, we are totally in favor of an initiative which aims to use Expo 2015 as the vehicle of a long-term project, and which will form the backbone of a food pact for the entire planet in the years to come.

Coop is the Italian leader in the large-scale retail sector, with sales that total 12.7 billion Euros and a market share of 19.1%. The Cooperative system consists of 105 cooperatives with 8 million members and 1,200 stores, including 101 hypermarkets.

The National Association of Consumer Cooperatives (ANCC-COOP) is the organization of political and institutional representation responsible for national campaigning and for the promotion of social and environmental policy for all the consumer cooperatives in Italy

Coop Italia is the Marketing and Purchasing Consortium of Consumer Cooperatives responsible for bargaining with industry and producers, for the design and production of its own-brand products, for policies regarding quality and safety, and for marketing strategy.

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