Category: P6 News

What is P6? Learn more!

What does it mean if I buy bananas with a P6 label on them? 

As a customer, when you make the decision to buy a P6 banana, it means that the people producing your bananas are paid a fair price for their product. It means the farmers have had a voice in the decisions made by the cooperative that they belong to. It means that those farmers are able to stay on their land, instead of working on someone else’s plantation. It means that any profit earned from the $1.19 per pound that you spent to buy those bananas is going to go to community efforts like buying medicine for the farmers’ children, or opening schools, instead of to enriching a corporation.

That’s from the great profile that Twin Cities area blog Tootie and Dotes wrote explaining the P6 program, completely with beautiful pictures. Check it out!

Viroqua Food Co-op is Regenerative

Our own Viroqua Food Co-op was profiled by the Field Guide for a Regenerative Economy. The profile focuses heavily on their P6 program.

Since joining the P6 Cooperative Trade Movement, VFC has made more deliberate decisions about how it sources its products. At the same time, some of the transition has happened naturally as the P6 branding helps call out local or cooperatively produced goods. “A lot of times when we have a non-P6 product on the shelf alongside a P6 product the customers will make the decision to buy the P6 product and the other will fade away,” Bjorn says. “About 96 percent of our produce is certified organic—much of it is from far away, especially the fruit.” When we spoke to Bjorn in early July, at the beginning of local produce season, 36 percent of sales in the produce department were P6 products. “This percentage will increase as we get more and more local products in our store,” Bjorn reports.

Read the whole article over at their website.

Supporting Small While Getting Bigger: P6 In The Eastside Expansion

Luna and Priya with the P6 mission

This picture shows Luna McIntyre and Priya Niskode-Backos of Eastside Food Co-op (EFC), standing in front of the P6 vision statement. The statement is printed around their vestibule, so that every customer who comes into the store has the opportunity to learn what P6 means. As EFC grows, Luna and Priya are considering how to keep the message of P6 at the forefront of customers’ minds.

Since community members worked to establish and open EFC in the early 2000s, they have been serving up tasty food, with an emphasis on local options, to the Northeast Minneapolis community. At this point, there are more customers than they have room for, so the store is expanding. They recently met their goal of raising over $1 million in owner investments for expansion and are eager to break ground soon. Members say they want more of what Eastside has to offer, and a big part of what Eastside has to offer is a commitment to small, local, and cooperative producers.

P6 banner at Eastside Food Co-op

EFC joined P6 in 2013 to deepen their commitment to small producers, everywhere. EFC sees “small” as the primary criteria: they support small producers who are have local ownership (within 250 miles) or cooperative values, or both. I spoke with Luna McIntyre about what the P6 program means to her and the impact she sees it having on customers and the food system.

Luna and Bananas at Eastside Food Co-op

Luna! Why does P6 matter to you personally?

As a consumer, I really appreciate the tangible implications of buying a P6 item. I know that my consumer dollars are going directly to support the farmers and producers of the foods I purchase which has a positive impact on their lives. As Eastside Food Co-op’s Marketing and Membership Coordinator, I also enjoy engaging with our customers and sharing the stories of P6 farmers. One recent example is the Equal Exchange’s Grow Together cashews program. Did you see the video about how cashews are grown? If you didn’t, I highly recommend it, because it adds a human element to your food and the supply chain. You learn about the history, the people and understand why P6 products are worth every penny! In addition, since P6 teaches you about the supply chain it closes the gap and transforms the grocery story into a farmers market.

How do you think P6 supports customers?

We see P6 as an added value member benefit program.  Keeping track of changes in the supply chain and current food issues can be challenging for consumers. Eastside Food Co-op is constantly researching new and current P6 producers to ensure they are positively representing food justice, equity and the quality our consumers are craving. In addition to carrying P6 products, the designation gives us a chance to celebrate the best quality foods and supply chain practices.

What has Eastside Food Co-op done up to this point to support P6?

When we launched the program in 2013, we hosted a launch party where we invited a number of our geographically local producers to come into the store and meet and greet our customers. This event was focused on getting customers to come in, put faces to the brand names, shake hands with the farmers, and to know that those producers are represented here at Eastside all the time.

Checkout screen at EFCAbout three years ago we upgraded our point of sale (POS) system and one feature that we really like is our ability to track P6 sales numbers throughout all departments. We are also now able to show customers their total percentage of P6 purchases on the bottom of their receipts. They can also see their total percentage on the register checkout screen as their sale is rung up. Customers frequently tell me how much they enjoy trying the increase the own personal record of P6 items purchased. Essentially, they make a game with themselves to support even more small, local, and cooperative producers!

There’s also P6 signage throughout the current store which includes the vestibule, some large format banners, and shelf-level signs. With expansion our sales floor will be twice as large, which will include more farmer/producer profiles because we will be able to carry more P6 products.

Tell me about the expansion. What’s it going to mean for P6?

With expansion, I’m extremely excited that the produce department is going to double. That means more shelf space for P6 producers! We are currently working to research additional P6 producers so we can prioritize including those products in the near future.

As we grow, we will have greater purchasing power. That means we can buy more product from small farmers, and provide a better revenue stream from them and more affordable pricing for our customers.

Bulk Almonds at EFCRight now, Priya and I are working on rewriting the branding and purchasing policies for the entire store. For the first time we’re putting P6 in those policies, so buyers and other employees in all departments are thinking about P6 when they’re making new product decisions. We’re also really looking forward to expanding sampling at the new store featuring P6 items, and hopefully getting a sampling coordinator someday! There’s a lot of possibilities open right now.

What’s going well, and where can Eastside grow and improve in the P6 program?

Our current P6 sales average about 27% of total store sales, which is very impressive given the size of our store and our restrictive definition of local. One of the main priorities of expansion is making the process of identifying P6 producers and products seamless, and a core part of Eastside’s identity. To achieve this, we are working with our staff to ensure they understand the impact of P6 on our store and our community so they consider it with all the decisions we make on a daily basis.

Where can people find out more about your expansion and your P6 program?

We have a great P6 webpage on our website and are working on getting more P6 information on our social media. To learn more about the expansion, we have fun construction mascot CeCe the Construction Cow. She posts updates to our construction webpage on our website and has a special Twitter account focused on expansion.

Thanks so much for your time! 

Thank you for talking with me! I always love talking about P6.

New P6 Board

p6sticker1We are excited to announce P6’s new Board of Directors! This is our first elected Board of Directors. As a multi-stakeholder co-op, taking new steps towards democratic governance that represents all our members is very exciting. You can read more about our new board members here.

The Only Food Co-op In Tennessee: P6 Reflections from Three Rivers Market

This post is by Loralyn Milcarek, the Merchandising Manager at Three Rivers Market. Loralyn is a new board member for P6.

Bikes parked outside of Three Rivers Market during their launch partyWhen Three Rivers Market first heard about Principle Six, we knew we wanted to participate in the movement.  At the time, we were in the middle of an expansion project, so we waited until we were truly ready to take it on.  We were moving from the old Victorian house that the co-op had operated out of for 30 years, and moving into a new, repurposed building with three times the space of our old location.

Co-op families enjoying the evening.

In August 2013, after we had settled in to our new larger store, we were ready to launch the Principle Six Cooperative Trade Movement in our store.  We kicked it all off by throwing a party at the store for our local community.  We invited local mobile food vendors to set up their food trucks and carts outside of our store, and set up a big tent with family-style tables decorated with locally-grown flowers. It was a festive afternoon, and hundreds gathered with their friends, neighbors, and kinfolk to eat great food and celebrate these locally-owned small businesses.  Inside the store, whether they stepped in to buy some groceries or just take a break from the Knoxville summer heat, co-op members and customers were greeted by new signs and banners that had popped up overnight, emphasizing the values of “small, local, co-op.”  Co-op members received 10% off of their purchases of P6 products all day.  With the launch of the P6 program, our customers were given an easy way to ensure that their purchases were supporting small, local, and/or cooperative farmers and producers, much like buying their dinner directly from the food truck owners outside.

TRM P6 and Local SlippiesPrior to the launch of P6, our co-op had labeled local products on the shelf, and customers sought out these products, to support small, local businesses through their purchases.  P6 added another layer to these values, by helping customers make purchases that will support small, independent farmers and producers on a national and global scale as well.

To us, the 3 criteria of small, local, and co-op refocused our attention on the values we had always held, and make it simpler to highlight these values for our customers.  When we talk about local businesses, we mean small, locally-owned independent businesses.  We’ve always had this degree of smallness included in our local definition.  When we joined P6, all of our local products became P6 products, and they were joined by hundreds of other products, grown or made by small, cooperative farmers and producers.  P6 took our local program to the next level, and helped us educate our customers on how their purchases support small, independent businesses outside of our local community.  

3. TRM Small Local Coop BannersThe cooperative focus of P6 is especially valuable to us, as Three Rivers Market has long been the only food co-op in the great state of Tennessee.  The presence of P6 in our store allows us to always be in conversation about cooperatives, through our store signs and through our website.  It is encouraging to know that, although we have far fewer co-ops in our area than our Midwestern co-op friends, we can still participate in this cooperative trade movement.

Loralyn and Luna.jpg-largeLast month, I attended the P6 Annual Meeting, hosted by Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I’ve been connected to the P6 network of co-ops for two years, but this was the first time I was able to meet with all of them in person.  We spent two days in conversations about the cooperative supply chain, expanding distribution of P6 products, supporting P6 producers in our own communities, and telling the P6 story within our stores.  I was encouraged and inspired by the work done by the co-op stores in the Midwest, and Farmer Direct Co-op in Canada.  The Midwest P6 stores were able to connect Farmer Direct Co-op with a regional distributor, to get cooperatively-grown grains and legumes into the bulk bins of cooperatively-owned food stores.

P6 welcomed new member co-ops this year, including Roanoke Natural Foods in Roanoke, Virginia.  I am happy to see that the movement is growing, and to welcome a fellow Southeast co-op to P6.  I look forward to the continued growth of the cooperative trade movement, and I hope that we can join together with other co-ops in our region to create more co-op to co-op connections.