“We need to meet demand,” says Carlota Pardo, spokesperson for Anecoop, one of the Mediterranean’s largest fruit and vegetable suppliers. “But one of the challenges is that we’re so dispersed in the fruit and vegetable cooperative sector that we as a group don’t have the power we could have.”

“Demand is contained in the hands of very few companies around the world but in Spain we are hundreds of suppliers,” says Pardo.

However, Anecoop is a reference point for other fruit and vegetable businesses around the world demonstrating the benefits of consolidation which have helped to put Anecoop on a level footing with its major competitors. It has 79 members which represent 90,000 growers and it is also involved in convincing these members to consider consolidation in order to grow and reap the benefits of cheaper operating costs and greater bargaining power.

Anecoop represents progress at a time when other businesses are smarting from the troubled local economy and contracting in an effort to survive.

In comparison to much of the Spanish business sector the Anecoop group has produced solid financial results in the past year and has maintained its workforce.

As Pardo explains, the cooperative business model has proved its worth in difficult times. “We are a business model which can go through any crisis,” she says.

At the same time Anecoop is also focused on the communities in which it works, particularly the lives and health of children. Two years ago it began the “Growing the Future” campaign designed to encourage children to eat larger quantities of fruit and vegetables. It includes an online game campaign called “The Bouquet Method” which it encourages participants to follow for 28 days. And by getting families to eat together it is also tackling the underlying reason for children generally eating less well: one of them being the erosion of family values.

Anecoop is now launching the same campaign in France.