Six out of ten (60 %) Finns have a positive or very positive attitude towards cooperation. This emerges from a survey conducted by Pellervo Coop Center (www.pellervo.fi). The corresponding figure ten years ago was 47 %. The attitude was most positive in the capital area of Helsinki, where the change was most remarkable compared to the situation ten years ago. The best known cooperatives in Finland are S Group (consumer cooperative), OP Group (cooperative bank), Valio (dairy), LähiTapiola (mutual insurance company), POP Bank and Metsä Group (forest cooperative).
The survey comprised the entire population of Finland, and the sample consisted of about 3000 responders. A parallel survey was made for farmers (sample about 1000 responders).
Finns are very cooperative people
Out of Finland’s adult population, 90 % have at least one membership in a cooperative. The percentage was 84 % in 2007. Each person has an average of 1.7 memberships. Farmers are even more active with an average of 3.7 memberships. The primary motives for membership are competitive prices as well as bonuses and other benefits paid by cooperatives. Next in importance come the location of service points, membership services and the fact that cooperatives ensure the availability of products and services in the region. Cooperative-specific values, equity as an example, are considered important. It was noteworthy that, more frequently than earlier, cooperatives’ principles are not expected to differ from the principles of other firms. However, the most common differences that were mentioned were the equality of owners (members) and the fact that cooperatives do not strive to maximize profit.
Growing interest in cooperative entrepreneurship
Approximately 20 % of Finns are interested in setting up a firm. The most interesting company forms are sole trader (51 %), limited liable company (36 %) and cooperative (11 %). People aged 35-59 years and highly educated people are more interested than others in establishing a cooperative. The overall level of interest in cooperatives can be regarded high in Finland, where roughly 200-250 cooperatives are set up yearly. Additionally, the responders felt that cooperative entrepreneurship matches well with the present time.
Cooperatives are important for farmers
Nearly every farmer (95%) is a member of a cooperative, most often an insurance company, consumer cooperative, cooperative bank or forest cooperative. Agricultural cooperatives, especially dairy and meat cooperatives, are very important for farmers.
The percentage of farmers with a positive attitude towards cooperation grew from 60 % to 74 % in 2007 -2017. Farmers are most satisfied with cooperative dairies and POP banks. However, their satisfaction with consumer cooperatives (S Group) decreased. The positivity of older farmers and meat producers showed the biggest growth of all. There is also increasing interest in joining grain cooperatives in Finland.
Farmers expect cooperatives to have an obligation to market their members’ products and buy them even in difficult market situation. More often than before, farmers think that a cooperative firm does not differ from other firms.