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The National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), Korea’s apex agricultural cooperative, co-hosted a joint seminar earlier this month with the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center (FFTC), an international organization dedicated to agricultural technology and information. The title of the seminar was “Improving Food Marketing Efficiency – the Role of Agricultural Cooperatives” and the primary goal was to explore ways in which agricultural cooperatives can empower farmers to be more competitive in the marketplace.
For two days, participants from eight countries around Asia gave presentations on cooperative agricultural marketing in their respective countries. Participants featured agriculture economists, professors, food management experts, and researchers who generously shared their findings about the successes of agricultural marketing ventures throughout Asia and the Pacific. After the presentations, there was a lively question and answer session during which the experts proposed a list of recommendations for improving food marketing efficiency. Such recommendations included encouraging cooperatives to take a greater role in the intermediary processes of food marketing, such as processing and distribution, and building more efficient management structures within existing cooperatives. The role of government involvement in cooperatives was also considered, and the participants agreed that government should play a greater role in the establishment and development of cooperatives.
On the third day of the seminar, the participants traveled south of Seoul to the Chungcheong province to visit one of NACF’s secondary marketing agencies, which operates under the brand name Hessare and has been lauded as one of the best secondary marketing agencies in Korea. Hessare is a marketing group composed of six local cooperatives, each of which grows peaches. The Hessare facilities process, package and distribute the cooperatives’ peaches to a variety of primary, wholesale, and e-commerce markets. In 2014, Hessare generated over USD50 million in sales, and sold over 15,000 tons of peaches, making it one of the most successful and recognizable fruit brands in Korea.
Following the visit to the Hessare facilities, the group was given the opportunity to tour one of NACF’s retail outlets, Hanaro Club. Hanaro is a supermarket owned by NACF and member farmers, and is supplied exclusively with Korean agricultural products. For many of the visiting participants, the Hanaro Club was the highlight of the field trip because the extensive system of farmer participation and support is an impressive component to what makes NACF unique as a cooperative organization. Hanaro Club serves as an excellent solution to farmers’ lack of presence at the consumption site, so the participants found it helpful to see a successful marketing and distribution venture first hand.
It is the NACF’s hope that all participants gained valuable insight about food marketing efficiency, thanks to the esteemed presenters from around the world. Together, these participants hope to improve food marketing efficiency through cooperatives.