Cosun is a cooperative, owned by Dutch beet growers who are its members. The cooperative is organized in districts and sections throughout the Netherlands. At the end of 2018 Cosun counted 9,015 members who own in total 6,545,369 cooperative shares (LLB’s). These shares entitle members to supply their beet to Cosun.
Royal Cosun is a cooperative owned by the members who supply their sugar beet to it. Until 2017, Cosun issued shares to its members. The shares were converted into registered member supply certificates in 2017. Each certificate gives a right and an obligation to supply a certain amount of beet to the cooperative.
The members’ council held three scheduled meetings in 2018. Issues discussed by the Members’ Council during the year included:
- the payment policy
- Cosun’s stance on crop protection
- the frost policy
- the premium policy
- the surplus beet price
The surplus beet price can fluctuate between 20 and 30 euros per tonne.
The performance of the business groups in general and the result of Suiker Unie in particular was a recurrent item on the agenda of the Members’ Council. The allocation enables us to respond to developments in the sugar sales markets.
An additional meeting was held in the autumn to discuss the developments of Aviko.
‘Beet tourism’ was discussed in detail. This phenomenon arises when beet are supplied by members who did not grow them. Cosun has tended to turn a blind eye to beet tourism but it formalised this unofficial practice in 2018. As a rule, all beet must now be grown by the member who supplies them. If a member sows sufficient beet seeds but circumstances prevent him or her from supplying the agreed volume of beet, however, the grower may supply beet grown by another member. Beet tourism will therefore remain as a mechanism to compensate for a below par crop. We have had to formalise the practice because it results in Cosun paying a higher price for the beet it receives. This exerts pressure on the cooperative’s financial results and consequently on the level of the members’ bonus. The members involved in beet tourism gain a financial advantage but others are financially disadvantaged. The rules have been clarified to prevent unnecessary discussion of the principle and practice of beet tourism. The policy will be evaluated and discussed with the members in the first half of 2019.
The growers will be held to their supply allocation. If they are nevertheless unable to meet it, they must apply for an exemption in good time and demonstrate that they had sown sufficient hectares to meet the allocation. If they do not satisfy the conditions, the Board may fine them. A very small number of growers were fined in 2018.
Participation in the Unitip crop registration system has been compulsory since the 2018 campaign. An overwhelming majority of the growers enter their data in the system punctually. Growers who do not enter all their data on time do not receive the final payment for the beet they supply.