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Digitisation survey in cooperatives

By Pablo Fernandez -

On 3 December, Agri-food Cooperatives of Spain presented the results of a recent digitisation survey of cooperatives at the conference organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (MAPA) entitled "Cooperatives as data collectors".

The aim of this survey was to find out the degree of sensitivity of the cooperatives towards digitisation in the short term. To this end, the aim was to determine the willingness to invest in digitisation in less than two years, the amount of investment, its motivation and the products of interest. The survey sample is made up of 170 agri-food cooperatives in Spain with a presence in more than 10 sectors, 42 provinces and 14 autonomous communities (CCAA).

Digitalisation cannot be understood without a suitable connectivity environment. In this sense, the survey revealed that 65% of cooperatives have serious problems with coverage and access to the internet. Of these, 29% said they had problems on their members' farms, 18% on the cooperative itself, and another 18% on both the cooperative and their members' farms. The remaining 35% either did not detect problems or did not specify their location. These figures seem to be consistent with the fact that only 54% of the cooperatives have fibre optics today




As anticipated, another question referred to cooperatives was how many cooperatives and how much they were willing to invest in digitisation in the short term. The results indicate that about 80 percent of the cooperatives intend to make such investments, although only 30 percent have planned amounts in excess € 50,000. In total, it is estimated that the cooperatives in the sample will invest around 10 million Euros in less than two years, of which almost 5 million Euros are planned to be executed within one year. The results reveal that 50% of the planned investments are concentrated in the Autonomous Regions of Catalonia, Castile and Leon and Andalusia. In terms of the relationship by sector, the average investments per sector and cooperative indicate that the animal feed, dairy and meat sectors are the three sectors most willing to make investments, with amounts in excess of € 120,000 per cooperative on average




According to the results of the survey, the main motivation behind these investments is the desire to make improvements in sustainability and to achieve greater control over the quality of the cooperative products. Regulatory issues and customer requirements do not seem to be factors behind the digital transformation in most cooperatives, let alone the optimization of processes and control.

As regards the type of products that cooperatives are interested in obtaining, more than 65% expressed their intention to acquire products linked to the management of the member-cooperative relationship (notices, notifications, settlements, etc.). Likewise, two other areas of investment towards which around 45% of the cooperatives point their investments are related to e-commerce (website, social networks, online marketing, etc.) and the management of the cooperative itself (ERP, CRM, etc.). Finally, around 35% of the sample expressed the need to make investments related to connectivity and internet coverage, in line with the 36% of cooperatives which stated that they had problems of this type in their own facilities.



In conclusion, today 65% of cooperatives face serious connectivity problems, a barrier that is crucial to overcome in order to promote an appropriate digital transformation in the sector. Within 2 years it is expected that some 10 million euros will be executed in 170 cooperatives, taking into account that the cooperative sector has more than 3,500 companies in Spain, this figure could be around 200 million euros for the sector as a whole. Likewise, the great commitment of the cooperatives to improving sustainability through digital transformation is noteworthy, with the products which allow the improvement of the social-cooperative relationship being the most in-demand at present. 

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