Principle Six (P6)

Get local, small producer, cooperatively-owned products at Seward Co-op!

Food co-ops have long brought nourishing, fresh food to our communities. We’ve defined ourselves as leaders with our focus on local, organic and fair trade. Our commitment to these values demonstrates our owners’ concerns for positive environmental impacts, healthy bodies and strong local economies.

An important question to ask about all products, however, is who owns them and who benefits from their purchase? Because Seward Co-op is committed to building an economy that reflects and promotes the interests of consumers and of local and international small farmers, we launched a breakthrough new initiative in fall 2010 called Principle Six (P6): the Co-op Trade Movement. Along with five cooperative partners nationwide, we highlight products that exemplify our primary ideals and principles. The goal? increasing market access for small farmers, building co-operative supply chains and, ultimately, changing our food system.


What is P6?

Principle Six (P6) is an initiative created and launched by Equal Exchange (a worker-owned cooperative) and six consumer co-operatives — including Seward Co-op — to promote small farmers/producers, co-operative/nonprofit businesses, and local farmers/producers. P6 empowers consumers to use their purchasing dollars to create an economy that embodies our highest values.

What are the criteria for each P6 element?
• Local
• Cooperative/nonprofit
• Small farmer/producer

Local defines a product grown or produced in the five-state region, or having value added in that region (see Seward Co-op’s definition of local below).

Co-op is defined by cooperative ownership of the business or nonprofit status.

Small producer
is defined using these guidelines: a) Independently owned and operated, and b) Selling direct to store(s) or through a local distributor with a regional distribution area. Equal Exchange defines small producers according to the guidelines established by the Fairtrade Labelling Organization for those international producers organized in co-operatives.

If a producer/farmer meets two of the three above criteria, their products receive the P6 label.

What are the co-op principles?
The International Cooperative Alliance, founded in 1895, is an independent, non-governmental organization that unites, represents and serves co-ops worldwide. The seven cooperative principles they established are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice. P6 was named in the spirit of the sixth principle.

1. Voluntary and Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Member Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and Independence
5. Education, Training and Information
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
7. Concern for Community

What is Equal Exchange?
A worker-owned cooperative based in West Bridgewater, Mass. For more than 20 years, they have partnered with small farmer co-ops and family farms in hopes of building a more equitable food system. Seward Co-op carries a number of Equal Exchange products.

How can I tell which products are P6?
Look for P6 labels on the shelf and ask co-op staff.

Why should I buy P6 products?
The dollars spent on P6 purchases support the farmers/producers who contribute to an economy in alignment with Seward Co-op's values.

Which should I buy: local, organic or P6?
Seward Co-op still values local and organic, but P6 will help tell the story of what co-ops do well and what differentiates us from other stores. P6 products are a culmination of our values; one can be assured they embody the highest criteria.

What does it mean if a particular item is not labeled P6?
It does not meet two or more of the criteria for the P6 program.

What happened to all of the “local” products?
We remain fully committed to local farmers and producers, many of whom are P6. Look for the blue local shelf tags, as you always have, for non-P6 local items. Local is merely one piece of the equation; geography alone doesn't create the kind of economy P6 strives for.

What is Seward Co-op’s definition of local?
At Seward Co-op, products are considered local if:
• They are grown or produced in the five-state region (MN, WI, IA, ND, SD);
• Some level of production (beyond repackaging) takes place locally. For example, a local coffee roaster is considered local. Although the raw product is not grown here, the coffee is roasted and packaged in the area, supporting local business.

How can I tell if a P6 item is local?
In many cases, P6 will replace the local label because a significant majority of P6 items are local. Equal Exchange products are obvious exceptions.

Where can I get P6 products?
At five founding retail co-ops across the United States:
Bloomingfoods Co-op (Bloomington, IN);
Davis Food Co-op (Davis, CA);
Eastside Co-op (Minneapolis, MN);
• Seward Co-op (Minneapolis, MN);
Three Rivers Market (Knoxville, TN);
Viroqua Co-op (Viroqua, WI); and
Willy Street Co-op (Madison, WI).

Do I get a discount if I buy P6?
Look for specials on P6 products throughout the year. P6 products are not automatically discounted because of the label, though.