Co-operative Conversations Episode 7

9 September 2020 6:30 pm - 8:45 pm

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Episode 7  Part 1: Interview – The co-operative advantage

6.30 pm –  7.15 pm AEST – Interview

Fiercely proud of their 100% Australian ownership, Oz Group Co-op is passionate about providing their community with the freshest blueberries, raspberries and blackberries through sustainable farming.

Formed in 2001 as a partnership between four Coffs Coast growers. It became a co-op in 2013. Founded by members of the Coffs Coast Sikh community in an innovative pivot after the decline of the local banana industry and has grown to be the biggest blueberry supplier in Australia.

Pete Lewis talks to Stephen Thandi, Oz Group Chair and local businessman – he also owns and runs Coffs City Glass and Aluminium and Northern Beaches Glass and Aluminium.

His path to running a berry co-op is an interesting one: he started farming as a hobby after work and on weekends when a tenant left his farmland in a derelict state after the downturn in the local banana industry. After completing a Certificate III in Horticulture, he joined Oz Berries in 2005 in order to focus on farming with the knowledge that his fruit would be quality controlled, packed and marketed for him. Stephen was encouraged by other members of the co-op to nominate for the board of directors in 2014 due to his life experience running his glass businesses for 30 years.

He sees the strength of the co-op in its collective nature: that when working together local farmers can achieve better things. He will talk about their transition from bananas to berries to the large business they are today, their journey into America and a Driscoll’s partnership, as well as how the different farmers all managed to work together in order to achieve stronger buying and selling power.

Watch on demand

Episode 7 Part 2: Roundtable 0  How to leverage paddock to plate and farmer-owned

7.45 pm –  8.45 pm AEST – Roundtable discussion

This is about how co-ops can give you a marketing advantage that is leveraging the zeitgeist about Aussie produced and paddock to plate.

Hear all about the innovative co-operatives marketing truffles, dairy products and berries and using their collaborative structure as a powerful marketing tool when Pete Lewis speaks to the experts from some of Australia’s most innovative farming co-operatives.

They will share how they take advantage of their co-operative structure and membership for consumer advantage. What difference does farmer-owned make to their bottom line? And how exactly do they push their food provenance, paddock to plate and made and produced in Australia credentials? Are their difficulties finding consensus in marketing and branding? What kind of support have they received?

They also explore world best practice and talk about the importance of distribution, community and educating consumers.

Join journalist Pete Lewis with special guests.

Watch on demand

Join Pete Lewis for an inspiring interview series as he explores the journeys of some of Australia’s most interesting and successful co-operatives. Pete’s long and varied experience as a journalist specialising in agriculture will ensure he gets to the heart of the issues you want to hear about. This livestream is part of the Co-operative Farming program.


9 September 2020
6:30 pm - 8:45 pm
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BCCM’s Co-operative Farming Project
1300 665 174
View Organizer Website


By Delivery
By Audience
CEOs, Leadership, Employees
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By Topics
Introduction to CMEs

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