SAOS Conference 2018 is now open for booking

SAOS January Conference Will Explore ‘Opportunities for Value Through Collaboration’

The SAOS conference (Thursday 25th January 2018) will hear  from two professors with deep expertise on this topic:

  • Professor Daniel Côté, University of Montreal, will address ‘Co-creating Value Through Co-operation Strategy. Daniel participated in our 2005 conference and influenced the emphasis of our co-op development work.
  • Professor Jan Godsell,  of the University of Warwick will speak on ‘Designing Fairer Collaborative Supply Chains’, and will give her insights into successful supply chain design and fair value allocation.

As usual our day begins with two morning Knowledge Transfer forums, the 2018 topics are ‘Improving Co-op Communications’ and ‘Increasing Board Diversity’

We were oversubscribed for the conference last year so please book early to avoid disappointment! Further details and a booking form are available here:

This year, in addition to our ‘group booking’ discount rate (for four or more members/staff of the same co-op), we are also offering a limited number of free ‘Next Generation’ places for first time attendees, who are under 40 years of age, please contact for details.

SAOS Autumn Update now available

Our latest newsletter is ‘hot off the press’, find out the latest news from SAOS and our member co-ops here: 

If you’ve missed any of our earlier issues, you can catch up at SAOS Update Quarterly Newsletters

New report: director remuneration in agricultural co-operatives

017cf519dc37a9b5eadec2243d6044f5b5b2b6e5e0A new survey of how agricultural co-ops reward their directors has highlighted a set of important recommendations around good governance for farmer-owned businesses.

The analysis was conducted by SAOS and Co-operatives UK to establish current practice around director fees and expenses and help with decision-making around the remuneration of non-executive directors in agricultural co-ops.

Director recruitment is critical to a business’s success and a remuneration package can play an important role in attracting directors with the right mix of skills and experience.


Some key findings from the report:

  • Director remuneration and the amount of time spent by directors on their roles varies widely, even among those with similar levels of turnover and employee numbers
  • Boards need to make sure that they have a formal process in place that monitors director remuneration to ensure it reflects the business’s needs and its ability to recruit directors of an appropriate quality
  • With only 12% of the co-ops surveyed having a formal process to review board performance, more agricultural co-operatives need to build regular director and board performance reviews into their governance planning
  • As only 37% of those co-ops surveyed have a director development programme in place and only 36% are confident that the co-op is recruiting enough directors of the necessary calibre, more co-ops need to implement processes around recruitment and remuneration
  • Many co-ops need to establish a strategy to increase gender diversity on their boards, with only 13% of respondents having women on boards.

Jim Booth, SAOS’ Head of Co-op Development, commented: “Whether through performance reviews, board development, or ensuring there are appropriate levels of diversity and the right mix of skills, there is a clear need for more co-operatives to put systematic processes in place to ensure boards are best placed to drive the business forward.”

“The quality and calibre of directors is arguably one of the most important factors in ensuring the future success of a co-op.  Farmer directors don’t expect to make lots of money while serving on their co-op board, but equally they should not subsidise the rest of the membership. The remuneration level for directors needs to be appropriate to attract and retain the right calibre of people.”

Richard Self, Agricultural Manager at Co-operatives UK, added: “The board is the engine powering your co-operative. It is vital to regularly service your board just as you would your car. What the figures in this survey show is that, alongside some best practice, many agricultural co-operatives are not taking the time to time to ‘tune’ their boards.

The full report is available to members of SAOS and Co-operatives UK that participated in the survey.

For more information, contact


SAOS is recruiting! Your opportunity to help farmers and supply chains to innovate through co-operation and collaboration

If you want to make a significant contribution to the future of Scotland’s farming, food and drink industry, and you’re motivated by a challenge, this opportunity will interest you.

We are seeking an experienced leader and project manager to join the SAOS team in our work designing and delivering change and innovation through co-operation and collaboration.

While farmers seek more certainty about markets and returns, food and drink manufacturers wish to secure supplies of quality Scottish raw materials as they invest in opportunities for growth. At the same time, the industry is dealing with volatile commodity markets and exchange rates, a changing policy environment, powerful data-tech solutions, and climate change. These present a challenging, but highly stimulating, set of change drivers that must be addressed by more collaborative activity.

In Scotland, SAOS accepts responsibility to lead in designing and facilitating programmes that improve farm profitability and the effectiveness of value chains through farmer co-operation and supply chain collaboration. SAOS is a founder member of Scotland Food & Drink, which, in its Ambition 2030, identifies more industry collaboration as a “pillar of growth” towards achieving the target of doubling the industry’s output to £30 billion in 2030.

As an SAOS team member, you would join a unique culture that is collegiate, collaborative and supportive, and where new thinking and new solutions are encouraged as an everyday aspect of our work. But most satisfying of all, is the delivery of solutions that make a real difference to people and to business, and to Scotland.

If this interests you, click on the link below to find out more. If you wish to apply, please get in touch before
5th September 2017.

What’s in it for you? Promote your co-op difference and its value to members

Keen to improve your co-op’s performance? SAOS has the answer…

A co-op’s purpose is to provide benefit to their members, but few co-ops actually measure the benefits of membership, in part because of the complexity.

The aim of this new service is to measure and report how a co-op delivers value to its members on an annual basis – to produce an annual ‘Member Value Statement’.


The main advantage of doing this is to drive your co-op’s business performance. Other benefits include:
• Developing a better understanding of how your Co-op delivers value
• Validation of the benefits of membership
• Ensures you have a better understanding of your members and their needs
• Route to grow your business – evidence of benefit and value for existing members
• Supports the recruitment of new members
• Produces benchmarks on which to measure and monitor future co-op performance
• Route to motivate your staff and increase their confidence
• Increased member pride from their participation and association with the co-op.

What is involved?
It’s not an onerous process and won’t require much of your time. It involves us sitting down with you to scope out what your co-op does, the services it provides, and all the ways in which it generates value to the members. Another key stage is speaking to your members to get a better understanding of why they joined your co-op and what they value? The next stage is to test and verify the list of benefits and for members to specify their priorities and assess how well you perform these services.
The whole process is straightforward and we’ll lead you through all the stages. The end result will be a simple one-page statement, largely involving ‘informatics’ diagrams that clearly and effectively display the member benefits you’ve delivered over the year.

What is the cost of this service?
We are fortunate in having secured funding from Scottish Government to help with this project, so the cost of the service to each co-op is only £1,500. For that you’ll get between eight and ten days of SAOS staff development time, as well as all the benefits mentioned above. We are really excited about this initiative as it has the potential to be a real game changer for farm co-ops. We are limited to working with 12 co-ops, so please note your interest as soon as possible.

To register your interest, or for more information, Click here to email Jim Booth

Here are some more great examples of Member Value Statements already produced with our member co-ops:

FarmStock MVS 2017-2 FarmStock MVS 2017-1


Tayforth MBS-1 Tayforth MBS 2