Case study

SolBun Cooperative

Participating partners: Highclere Consulting (Romania)

The SolBun Cooperative is a start-up cooperative that was set up at the end of 2020 and is made up of 5 small producers (> 5ha per farm) – vegetables and dairy. In the past 3 years, the cooperative went through a maturing process that implied finding innovative ways to directly sell their products to the local consumers (selling directly to consumers in the central farmers’ market in Brasov, testing a food-box scheme based on pre-order).

The main objective of the coop is every year to keep aggregating the small producers and artisans from the area of Brasov (Southern Transylvania) willing to cooperate in order to address together a market segment and develop short-supply food chains within the city of Brasov (population > 300.000 inhabitants) to provide a healthy alternative for local consumers. 


The SPI for the SolBun Cooperative (Fair Soil Coop) study case in Romania focuses on identifying the core characteristics of an economically sustainable small producers’ cooperative. In Romania, there are 3.6 million smallholder farms (or more precisely, agricultural households), managing some 45% of the total Utilized Agricultural Area. The aggregation of small producers into cooperatives is critical for accessing the market and reaching consumers. They have a very important role to play in local and regional food security (considering both rural and urban areas), but relatively few connect with modern food value chains despite the sustained demand of Romanian consumers for good quality local (including many traditional/artisan) products. Therefore, we aim to identify the requirements of joining a cooperative, the main economic and social benefits of the cooperatives upon their members, the consumers’ perceptions of this type of business model, compared with others, and also how cooperatives of small producers can become viable business models. We will engage with a diverse group of stakeholders: members of the SolBun Cooperative, the public authorities that coordinate and monitor the food chains at a local level (local municipality, National Veterinary, and Food Safety Authority, County Agricultural Directorate), the consumers of the cooperative, the voluntary sector organisations that promote and support agricultural cooperatives at a national level.