2,250 commodity and service cooperatives are operating today in various lines of business in Germany. Particularly in difficult economic times farmers, horticulturists and winegrowers trust in the cooperative principle of self-help and assume individual responsibility.
The marketing and service enterprises of German agriculture cover and process the entire range of agricultural products from plants to animals. Cooperatives act as bridge-builders to both domestic and foreign markets. It is their declared objective to achieve excellent market prices and to protect the independence of farming members and their businesses.
Cooperatives are reliable trading and contractual partners of the farming community by marketing their crop and aggregate purchases, and by storing and distributing farm inputs.
More than 60% of the entire quantity of milk produced is processed by dairy cooperatives in Germany. Each year, winegrowers' cooperatives collect one third of the grape harvest and process it into wines of different quality grades.
Cooperatives provide many and diverse services and consultancy, including repair services and advice on how to meet market and environmental requirements when production is expanded. For example, Raiffeisen cooperatives analyze soil samples, advise on environmentally friendly plant protection, produce components for animal feeds and define criteria for the processing industry. They also explore markets for new products. In line with the motto “we open up new markets” they have supported the cultivation and marketing of regenerative raw materials and regenerative sources of energy.
Cooperatives operate more than 850 petrol stations in Germany. They supply fuel and petrol to industrial, agricultural and private customers alike and operate some 714 specialized DIY-markets. A wide choice of highquality products for homes and gardens and animal food is available in more than 1,500 Raiffeisen stores.
Cooperatives are also involved in the recycling of recyclable material. Their comprehensive range of services helps to make rural areas more attractive. Following the motto “Raiffeisen – services for everyone”, the large choice of cooperative products and services is greatly appreciated in rural and suburban communities.
In the entire value chain from stalls to the shop counter, Raiffeisen cooperatives act as important and reliable partners to the food-producing industry, food retail trade and the food-producing trades. Given their close ties with producers and the cooperation between primary and central cooperatives, they are always able to deliver the required quantities and, in particular, quality.
By collecting, storing and processing they accumulate supplies of marketable quantities. Cooperatives emphasize the need for contractual ties, operate on the basis of reliable quality management systems and ensure impeccable certification of origin. Quality and safety are the key to all lines of business. Brand products of cooperative origin are greatly appreciated by trading partners and consumers at home and abroad. Modern and efficient Raiffeisen cooperatives have emerged from the charitable self-help organizations born of the hardship of the 19th century. They meet the high requirements of food production in terms of quality of raw materials and finished products.
Greater competition on European and international markets, continuing structural change in agriculture, and also a greater measure of concentration in the upstream and downstream stages of distribution have also forced cooperative enterprises to streamline production and to continue concentrating their economic forces. The process of adaptation is already far advanced and will be continued with determination.
Raiffeisen is an important economic factor and employer, especially for rural areas and the people living there. Some 82,000 workers are currently employed in the various sectors, including trainees and retail and wholesale clerks, graduates of business administration, laboratory staff, dairy experts and managerial staff.
Following German reunification, the Raiffeisen organization has assumed the function of advising, serving and auditing the agricultural cooperatives of eastern Germany. They cultivate approximately one third of the agricultural land in that part of the country. 750 agricultural cooperatives with some 25,000 members generated a turnover of roughly € 2.0 billion in 2015. More than 25,000 workers are employed in these enterprises.
The entire Raiffeisen organization generated a turnover of some € 61 billion in 2015.
The Deutscher Raiffeisenverband e.V. (DRV –German Raiffeisen Federation – reg. assoc.) represents the manifold interests of rural cooperatives in dealings with government, parliament, administrators and associations as well as on a national and international level in the public sphere. The DRV headquarters are in Bonn. The Federation also has offices in Berlin and Brussels.