Q: Can I set up an account if my business is in Canada? A: Yes. Canadian accounts have the same requirements for a membership fee and an application. We also require an international version of the W-9 form (Form W-8BEN — Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding) be filled out, since there is not a U.S. Employer Identification Number or Social Security number. However, to save shipping costs, we recommend that you try working with one of our Canadian distributors. Please call our Customer Service Department at (800) 669-3275 for assistance.
Q: When will I get my order? A: Delivery time is primarily dependent on the shipping method for your order. Most of our orders are shipped Economy Rate. It's our most economical option and the method most often used for free shipping. Economy Rate shipping is available for packages up to nine pounds going to residential addresses in the continental United States. Most Economy Rate orders arrive within 10 business days, but delays are possible. FedEx Home Delivery and 3-day and 2-day expedited shipping also are options (at additional cost). USPS Priority Mail and Parcel Post delivery times vary widely and are not guaranteed.
Q: Do you ship internationally? A: Frontier is no longer able to ship orders directly to international addresses. We recommend you contact the United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) International Account Supervisor at 860-779-2800 (ext. 32527) regarding international shipping options for our products. Complete contact information is below.
Frontier can ship to you at a U.S. shipping address under regular domestic terms. However, Frontier is not responsible for additional shipping costs, documentation, broker fees, customs clearance and duty fees. Upon request, Frontier can provide an invoice that lists the country of origin for bulk herbs and spices.
Q. How do the member/owners finance Frontier? A. Basically a portion of the annual profits that each member receives remains invested in the co-op as for a period of time, providing the capital necessary to operate and expand the business. Each member's capital investment is kept in their name in two accounts:
share money — an account built from the member's portion of annual profits that represents the investment, or share in ownership, that the member has in Frontier retained patronage (also called deferred patronage) — an account made up of the part of the member's allocation of Frontier's annual net savings, or patronage dividend, that is retained for a time by the co-op for capital purposes
Both accounts are created from the annual allocations of Frontier's annual net savings to individual members, and neither requires any additional investment on the part of the member. After the required level of investment in share money is met, other retained patronage is returned to members on a rotating basis, with oldest investments returned first.
Q. What is the "share requirement"? A. This is an assessment determined by the Board of Directors. The share money requirement is assigned to each cooperative member, based on the amount of business done with the co-op, to ensure that the cooperative has the funding it requires to meet capital needs.
The share requirement is determined by multiplying the member's average purchases per month by 2.25 (or 225%)
Example: If your annual purchases were $10,000, your share requirement would be as follows: ($10,000/12) times 2.25 = $1,875
Q. How often is the share requirement calculated? A. Once per fiscal year. Note: Frontier operates on a fiscal year of July 1 through June 30 the following calendar year. (For example, July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2016 is fiscal year 2017.)
Q. What if my share money balance isn't enough to meet my share money requirement? A. If there is a deficiency in a member's share money balance when compared to the calculated share money requirement, then the amount of this deficiency is transferred from the member's deferred patronage from the most recent fiscal year allocation.
Example: If the calculated share money requirement is $1,000 and the current share money balance is $700, $300 will be transferred from the deferred portion of your allocated patronage dividends for the current year.
Q. How do you handle a share balance that is higher than the requirement? A. Upon request, the excess will be refunded to you at a rate not to exceed $1000 per month until the entire excess has been returned.
Q. How is my patronage dividend calculated? A. Frontier returns its net income (total income minus total expenses) to its members each fiscal year in accordance with the amount purchased from the co-op. If Frontier's net income is equal to 3% of annual member sales, then each member is allocated a patronage dividend equal to 3% of their purchases for the fiscal year.
Q. What is retained patronage? A. Thirty percent of the patronage allocation is paid by check at the time of the distribution patronage (usually March for the previous fiscal year). Seventy percent of the allocation is retained for our continuing capital needs (eg. expansion of physical facilities). This portion (members' retained patronage) is paid at some later time when the Frontier Board of Directors determines it is no longer needed for capital purposes. Retained patronage is distributed by Frontier issuing a check for a given year's retained patronage to each member with patronage in that year. (If a percentage of a year's retained patronage is issued instead of the full amount, that percentage is distributed equally across the board to every member.)
Q. Do I have to pay taxes on my patronage dividends? A. Yes. If you accept the allocation by cashing the check enclosed with the original distribution within 90 days, you are required to include the entire amount of the patronage allocation as income for your taxable year that includes the month in which you receive the allocation. (The check enclosed with the original distribution is subject to backup withholding if we don't have a valid taxpayer identification number on file for you.)
Once having paid tax on the full amount in the year the patronage allocation is earned, future returns of the retained portion are tax-free. For example, if your patronage allocation in a given year is $3,000, you will receive a check for $900 and $2,100 will be added to your retained patronage account. You must report the full $3,000 patronage allocation as income for taxation purposes that year, but when you are later returned the retained patronage, you pay no additional taxes on it.
Q. What happens if I don't cash my patronage check? A. If you don't cash your patronage check within 90 days (either by choice or by oversight), you will be considered to have refused the entire patronage dividend, which will be donated to the Frontier Co-op Giving Fund for charitable purposes. In that event, no amount will be taxable to you, and no reporting will be made to the IRS. Not cashing the check does not affect your future patronage dividends.
Q. Do I get my patronage and share money back if I end my Frontier membership? A. Yes. You maintain ownership of your patronage and share money when you terminate membership in the co-op. Your retained patronage will be returned on the regular Board-approved schedule unless special arrangements are made. Your initial membership fee and share money is paid back in increments of $1000 per month.
Q. How is the Frontier Board of Directors chosen? A. Frontier members elect six of the nine directors. Each year members receive a ballot and information on the candidates for the open Board positions. Two at-large directors are appointed by the elected directors, and Frontier's CEO assumes the automatic position of Management Director.
Q. Are there different kinds of cooperatives? A. Yes, there are many kinds of cooperatives, including food co-ops, farmer co-ops, childcare co-ops, utility co-ops, credit co-ops and housing co-ops. Consumer co-ops are owned by those who band together to purchase products and/or services. Producer cooperatives are made up of people (farmers and artisans, for example) combining resources to sell their products, and worker cooperatives are owned and controlled by employees of businesses. Around the world, about 800 million people belong to cooperatives organized to meet their needs.
Consumer co-ops can be either primary co-ops or secondary co-ops. Primary co-ops provide goods and services directly to their consumer members (a number of our members are primary co-ops), while secondary co-ops supply goods and services to an entity that in turn sells to the consumer. Frontier is a secondary co-op â€” we provide a wholesale supplier service to our member retail stores and buying clubs, and they in turn provide our products to the people using them.