The ‘Transaction Cost Approach’ and the Performance of the Belgian Dairy Co-operatives Before 1940
Peter Van Der Hallen
We see that Belgian industrial dairy production before World War II lagged the developments of other countries in the same region and of the same size such as Denmark and The Netherlands. The share of home production remained remarkably high, while within the industrial segment the number of private to co-operative creameries was high compared to the more successful countries. We argue that this is no coincidence. Co-operative creameries were better suited to deal with the problems posed by the organisation and technology of dairy production at the time. The lacklustre performance of the Belgian dairy industry was therefore connected to the underdevelopment of the co-operative sector. The co-operative spirit of Belgian farmers suffered due to some historical events such as the large scale introduction of farm cream separators and especially the outbreak of World War I. This erosion of co-operative spirit diminished the attractiveness and binding power of the co-operative creameries.
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