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Environmental standards and financial performance of agricultural co-ops: The influence of ISO 14001 on Spanish olive oil co-op performance

Abstract : During the last decade, there has been an increase in social, environmental and sustainability concerns, becoming an issue of growing interest to consumers (Koistinen et al., 2013; Denver and Jensen, 2014). In addition, awareness of food products sustainability has affected the choices of food consumption. This has meant that sustainability became a relevant area to the olive oil production industry (Erraach et al., 2017). Thus, the industry is currently entering a period of transition towards a more sustainable production, which involves the adoption of eco-innovations actions in its productive processes, among others. An estimated 3 million tons of olive oil are produced worldwide every year. Spain is the leading country, with an average close to 1,300,000 tons produced. Within Spain, Andalusia produces 60% of national production and, consequently, around 30% of global production. We find two types of first- stage industries linked to the production of olive oil: industrial cooperatives and non-cooperatives. Out of the total number of indus- tries, 50% are cooperatives and 50% non-cooperatives. This study is supported by official data from 434 first-stage cooperatives located in Southern Spain (Andalusia). As part of their process of sustainable transformation, the olive oil producers (co-ops) are adopting some environmental standards (EMS), which are considered as facilitating factors for the adoption of eco-innovation and can indirectly help to achieve the sustainable development goals (Ferenhof et al., 2014; Martínez-Perales et al., 2018; Salim et al., 2018). There are two environmental systems widely accepted world- wide: ISO 14001 Standard on one side, and Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) on the other. Both EMAS and ISO 14001 are volunteer systems that provide an independent guarantee of appropriate environmental performance after a third party evaluation. ISO 14001 standard is much more widely accepted within the olive oil industry, (Carrillo-Labella et al., 2020; Guerrero-Baena et al., 2015). This preference is driven by the desire to achieve a greater economic and financial return, among other factors. In this connection, it is worthy to be noted that the link between this standard and companies’ financial results is still a growing field of research, since data is not fully conclu- sive (Mas-Machuca y Marimon, 2020). Analyzing the scientific literature on the relationship between environmental performance and the economic and financial results from a comprehensive approach, we found positive results (Mazzi et al., 2016; Dainelli y Daddi, 2019), as well as negative and inconclusive results (González-Benito y González-Benito, 2005; Valenzuela et al., 2015). There are even some investigations where no link between environmental and financial performances was found (Aragón-Correa y Rubio-López, 2007). The same pattern was observed by focusing on some of the environmental voluntary attitudes such as the adoption of environmental standards (ISO 14001). In the scientific literature we can find positive (Curkovic and Sroufe, 2012; De Jong et al., 2014; Lee et al., 2017), negative (Chiarini, 2017; 2020; Teng and Wu, 2018) and inconclusive results (Heras-Saizarbitoria et al., 2011; Su et al., 2015; Wu et al., 2020). In order to continue developing this line of research, this paper intends to analyze whether there is a positive link between the ISO 14001 Standard and financial performance. To this end, we took into consideration some indicators from the olive oil cooperative industry. This study is supported by objective data such as the financial statements of the olive oil producing co-ops from Andalusia (Spain). It is based on the total census of olive oil producing companies in Andalusia (N = 875), of which, as indicated above, 50% are co-ops (N = 434). A final sample of 255 cooperatives was obtained from the total of the cooperative business census from three consecutive years (2013-2015). A telephone survey was carried out during the months of September to December 2019 to find out whether they had adopted or not ISO 14001 Environmental Standard (124 companies confirmed they had the ISO 14001 Certificate) as well as their export value. Subsequently, we carried out an ANOVA analysis of variance with repeated measures.
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Contributor : Jean-Walter Schleich <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 12, 2021 - 2:56:53 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, July 18, 2021 - 1:22:45 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-03284330, version 1


Rocio Carrillo Labella, Fatiha Fort, Louis-Antoine Saïsset, Manuel Parras Rosa. Environmental standards and financial performance of agricultural co-ops: The influence of ISO 14001 on Spanish olive oil co-op performance. ICA CCR Europe Research Conference "cooperatives in transition facing crisis", Jul 2021, Online Conference, France. ⟨hal-03284330⟩



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