La Impossible, the Mexican cooperative that invented a way to get to a fair price
By Stella Álvarez
This week we spoke with Luis Bracamontes, an agronomist and currently a doctoral student, manager along with 30 other people, most of them women , of the “La Imposible” Cooperative located in the Colonia Obrera in the Mexican capital. We were surprised by his youth and tenacity to create and above all to persevere in a management model that, as his name indicates, may seem unfeasible. And it is that if there is any difficulty in this type of process is to build an alternative to achieve a fair price.
They were born in 2015 as a collective response of small producers and food processors that supply markets in the capital of Mexico. They had in common the discomfort with the forms of dominant relationship generated by supermarkets, which in most cases are harmful to the producer, the consumer and the environment. Thus, that group decided to embark on a challenging dream that they called the Impossible because, according to what they say, “It is hard for more and more people to join in solidarity.” But it is that in addition to the difficulties inherent to these projects, although the cooperative apparently resembles other experiences of alternative food networks, it has a substantial difference and it is the novelty of its mechanism for establishing food prices.
Similar to other projects, La Imposible sells food grown or processed by its partners who are small producers and processors; Its offer includes, among other things, vegetables, fruits, eggs, chicken, grains, dairy products, chocolate, beer and artisanal bread. Every two weeks they ask the producers, through an electronic platform, what products they can offer because some of them grow seasonal foods or sometimes they do not produce the necessary volumes to guarantee permanent availability. With the response received, they make up a list that they send to consumers, so that they can place their orders, also using the same electronic platform. A small group of 15 people manages this process, organizes food on the premises, which they share with others solidarity community projects and everyone prepares for the delivery day, which is on Saturdays every two weeks. That day consumers go and take their order. Each provider sets the price of their product. The consumer knows that value recognized to the producer, which at the same time is the basis of what he or almost always she must pay and freely chooses to contribute between 5 to 20% more, due to the administrative management carried out.
The innovative system for setting prices has allowed them to guarantee stability for consumers and producers throughout the year. Obviously, that confidence in the criteria and commitment of the consumer caught our attention. We also learned that they have had cases in which people justify that they cannot make a contribution to administrative management and it is also valid. We asked Luis how much they trust in the fairness of consumer decisions, and he told us clearly: “When an organization promotes a logic of solidarity in its practices, people react in the same way.”
He also told us that within their activities they also advise groups from all over the country, which fortunately are more and more, willing to change the ways of producing, exchanging and marketing food. For example, they will carry out this June 22 the “Fourth workshop on the organization of alternative food networks.”
The Laimpossible cooperative shows us that it is necessary to turn to creativity to achieve the objective of a fair price for both links in the chain, which have lost their connectivity and their sovereignty in the hands of the decisions made by the large supermarket chains. A face-to-face meeting between those who guarantee us food and consumers can bring out the face of solidarity.
Listen to the full interview: