In light of Viva!'s Day of Action against the Co-op chain of stores on Saturday May 21, many supporters have asked about the relationship between the Co-op supermarket and the Co-op bank. We are not calling for our supporters who bank with the Co-op to end their relationship with them. The Co-op Bank and the Co-op Food Division make their ethical decisions separately from each other, but are both part of the Co-operative Group. The Co-op Bank is undoubtedly the most ethical place to invest your money. We have spoken to them, and they have assured us that they do not invest their customer's money in intensive animal farming (unlike all other banks). However, in light of this it is sadly ironic that the Co-op Food Division sources almost all of the meat for its stores from intensive units. Presently, all of the Co-op's own branded duck comes directly from factory-farms.
Whilst the Co-op and the Co-op Food Division operate separately, as they are part of the same larger group, you may wish to contact the bank if you are a customer (please see at the bottom of this page for the Co-op Bank's official response). Below is a suggested letter (with contact details below) to the Co-op Bank. Please use this, or much better adapt it.
Dear Co-op Bank
I'm writing to register my profound concern at the results of Viva!'s investigation into the Co-op Food Division's duck meat suppliers.
They discovered dead and dying ducklings littered throughout the sheds, birds suffering from eye infections and in considerable distress, filthy ducks unable to clean themselves because their water supply was so restricted and others who could not walk, dragging themselves along by their wings. I understand that similar conditions exist everywhere these essentially wild birds are intensively farmed.
Whilst I understand that the Co-op Bank and your Food Division operate different ethical policies, I find it sadly ironic that whilst you do not invest my money into intensive farming nearly all of the meat sold in Co-op stores comes from factory farms.
In light of this, I call on you to use any influence you may have to bring the Co-op Food Division in line with your own admirable policies, and insist that they immediately end the sale of all factory-farmed duck meat.
The Co-operative Bank p.l.c. PO Box 101 1 Balloon Street Manchester M60 4EP
08457 212 212
Co-op Bank's Official Response
"The Co-operative Bank is part of Co-operative Financial Services Limited (CFS), a subsidiary of the Co-operative Group. The Group is a diverse family of businesses that includes retail outlets, travel services, funeral services as well as financial services. Each of these businesses takes an independent view of how it conducts its business in line with co-operative values and heritage.
The Co-operative Bank is unique amongst high street banks in implementing a strict Ethical Policy that stipulates who it will and will not finance, based on extensive customer consultation.
With specific regard to the issue of animal farming, the Bank's Ethical Policy contains the following statement:
"We will not invest in any business involved in intensive farming methods, for example, caged egg production."
This statement includes organisations involved in the intensive farming of ducks.
In the most recent review of the policy, in 2001, 88% of those customers who participated in the review supported this position."