By Justin Pizzella, General Manager

Fiscal Year 2016-17 marked another good year for our Co-op. Although we still face many challenges, we made significant strides that I am excited to report.

Some highlights of the fiscal year include:

Our membership grew by 595 members, and we now have more than 12,750 members.
We grossed approximately $11.2 million in sales in the fiscal year.
$2.8 million (about 25%) of our sales were local products!
We continue to give significantly to community through our community event participation, hosting nearly 30 community lectures or events, providing direct donations totaling over $30,000 and directly donating more than 10,000 lbs of food.
We composted or recycled 470,000 lbs., which is almost all of our waste stream, and provided almost 127,000 bag credits.

In the previous two Ends reports, I described the challenges our Co-op is facing: the need for continual improvement in our operations, increasing participation in our Co-op and the changing competitive landscape of the natural & organic sector. These challenges have not changed. We have to continue focusing on all three challenges to accomplish the things that differentiate us as a co-op.

Operations: We must stay focused on the need to continually improve ourselves as a store operator. There is continued pressure to keep prices low, while still balancing our costs to operate this business.
As we move forward, we will continue to maintain tight expense controls and strive to improve systems. We will work to keep our prices as low as possible. This goal has been aided by our membership with the National Cooperative Grocers, through them we continue to gain significant price advantages, especially as we grow the Co-op Basics program.

Competition: The demand for clean, organic and non-GMO food continues to grow, and we experience competitive pressure from every sector of the food economy. In the coming year, three new natural & organic stores will open in the Pittsburgh area.

Participation and Engagement: We need to focus on increasing engagement with our members, as their opinions and input are crucial in helping us to focus the organization.

As I write this, I am preparing to leave the Co-op in October 2017. I want to take this opportunity to say goodbye and thank you. I am proud of the progress the Co-op has undergone in my 6.5 years here. Our sales have grown from $7.5 million in 2011 to $11.2 million this year. In that same time, our percentage of local sales has increased from 11% to 25%, our membership has grown from 9,200 to 13,000, our staff has nearly doubled, and we donate significantly more to the community in both time and money than ever before. I leave the Co-op knowing that we have a great staff and sound financials to continue to serve our community.