Associated Food Stores (AFS) is a cooperative organization that operates as a wholesale grocery distributor serving independent grocery retailers in the United States. AFS is owned and governed by its independent retailer members, who participate in the cooperative by purchasing products and services from AFS.

Here’s five ways Associated Food Stores works as a cooperative:

  1. Ownership: AFS is owned by its independent retailer members, who hold shares in the cooperative based on their level of participation and purchases. Each member has a voice in the cooperative’s decision-making processes, regardless of their level of ownership.
  2. Governance: AFS is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the retailer members, who are responsible for overseeing the cooperative’s operations and setting strategic direction. The Board of Directors is comprised of independent grocery retailers who are elected by their peers.
  3. Purchasing and Distribution: AFS acts as a wholesale grocery distributor, purchasing products from various suppliers and negotiating favorable terms and pricing on behalf of its members. AFS then distributes the products from its distribution center to its member retailers, who operate independently and serve their local communities.
  4. Member Participation: AFS encourages active participation from its member retailers, who have the opportunity to provide input on business decisions, participate in committees, and attend cooperative meetings and events. Member retailers also have access to various services and programs offered by AFS, such as marketing support, training, and operational assistance.
  5. Shared Benefits: AFS operates with the goal of providing economic benefits to its member retailers. This can include cost savings through collective purchasing power, access to a wider range of products and services, and sharing of best practices and knowledge among members. Members also receive rebates that share in the financial success of the company.

Associated Food Stores operates as a cooperative by leveraging the collective strength of its independent retailer members to achieve economies of scale, shared decision-making, and mutual support in the grocery industry.