Customers are also the staff at this Brussels supermarket run on a co-operative model


BRUSSELS (Reuters) - You have probably heard of the saying you are what you eat, but how about you work where you shop?

This non profit, 'fair trade' supermarket in Brussels, is run by its customers.

Co-op member Lucia Ghilardi, 52, says: "The supermarket is a wonderful community. When you come here, it is for much more than just to shop. You see people that you have met one day in the queue, and the next day you see them behind the till, or unpacking vegetables."

The store is only open to its 1,800 members, who become joint owners on registration, and must commit to working in the supermarket for three hours per month.

It has been operating for six months, but will be officially open at the end of April.

But that is not the only unusual aspect of the store.

Getting a fairer deal for farmers is a focus.

Bees co-op co-founder Enrico de Sanso, 33, says: "We lower the costs of our structure in the first place so as to not put pressure on our producers and suppliers to lower their prices."

A margin of around 20 per cent is applied to all products - to cover overheads like electricity.

Other supermarkets may soon be forced to be more ethical.

On Thursday (Apr 12), the European Comission proposed a ban on unfair trade practices, such as last minute order cancellations, and forcing the supplier to pay for wasted products.

Co-op member Dounia Tadli, 25, says: "The co-op members have a say in which products the supermarket stocks, and we know that there are certain environmental and ethical criteria. This is not the case in commercial supermarkets, where profits are the main concern."

In fact here the owners do not take any profit.

Any money made is reinvested in the supermarket.