Opening the event, hosted by Chairman of European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee Czeslaw Adam Siekierski , Cogeca President Thomas Magnusson said “These Awards aim to promote practices and innovative solutions designed by cooperatives. Since 2009, Cogeca - the voice of European agri-cooperatives - recognizes and celebrates the outstanding innovation practices of European agri cooperatives. I am very pleased with the quality of the projects submitted this year. Agri-cooperatives make sure that innovative solutions are workable at farm level as they take into consideration all aspects of the project from the technical, social, environmental and economic aspects of it. The EU has a key role to play in boosting innovation in the sector and increasing competitiveness, investment, growth and jobs and I am glad to see that greater focus will be put on research and innovation in the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)”.
Winners of the Awards:
• Award for innovation in the food processing sector went to the Finnish meat cooperative LS0 Osuuskunta for the launch of its Omega-3 pork project. This has shown remarkable innovations in feed, strict hygiene and biosecurity practices which reduce the amount of saturated fat in pigs and lower the need for antibiotics, resulting in a much better tasting, healthier product. It has seen phenomenal success on local and international markets;
• Business Model Innovation Award was the Irish dairy cooperative Glanbia for introducing a MilkFlexFund which provides farmers with cash flow relief when most needed by allowing farmers to make no repayments for investments when prices are low and increasing repayments when prices are high. It has inbuilt “flex triggers” that adjust to the repayment terms in line with seasonality and movements in the Glanbia milk price;
• Award for Innovative use of ICT and digitalization went to the Finnish Forestry Cooperative Metsaliitto for creating an on-line e-Business service for its members to sell wood to the Metsa Group and to buy forest management services. This new e-Business service enables forest property management to be carried out regardless of the time or place which is vital when forest owners are living in towns far away from their forest property;
• Runner up prize for use of ICT and digitalization was given to the Spanish cooperative DCoop for deploying new technologies on agricultural and livestock farms as well as in the processing facilities. The ICT tools give full traceability of the product and give consumers a better understanding of the added value of it;
• Award for Innovation in Governance and Member Services went to the Italian dairy, arable and forestry cooperative AgriAmbiente Mugello Societa’ Cooperativa. This is for its innovation in three main areas which have boosted profit margins considerably