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Buying local food through social media – REKO food group in Rovaniemi

6/25/2018 10:30 AM

With the booming popularity of social media, buying groceries and food has become an easy thing online. REKO food group in Facebook, a sales channel for local food, is operating in Rovaniemi. 

Rovaniemen reko kuva1.jpg

Photo Credit: Tanja Häyrynen, Lapin liitto

The group allows its members to order locally produced groceries and food online. The trade is carried out without any middlemen, which gives the producers and the buyers a chance to hold informal communication. 

“The Rural Cluster started this REKO in Rovaniemi. Previously there was already a REKO in Meri-Lappi (Kemi-Tornio) and Enontekiö. We wanted one for Rovaniemi also, because we saw the need for it”, said Johanna Asiala, one of the administrators of the group.

Being a project coordinator at the Regional Council of Lapland, Asiala, together with Tanja Häyrynen and Johannes Vallivaara, is responsible for the communication system of the Rovaniemi REKO group and making advertisement pictures of food distribution days.

How does REKO work? 

It is really a very simple scheme. “We have distribution day every other week, usually on Thursdays in Rovaniemi’s REKO. The producers post on the Facebook group page near the distribution day and tell what kind of products they have for sale and what the prices of those products are. Consumers can make an order by commenting on the post that the producer has made or by using Rekorder-page for Rovaniemi’s REKO-group. It depends on the producers, if they use only Facebook or both Facebook and Rekorder to sell their products”, explained Asiala.

Everyone who produces food and natural products is welcome to sell their produce through the group. According to Asiala “a seller doesn’t have to be an entrepreneur to sell products in Rovaniemi’s REKO, but the sellers of course have to take care of things like paying taxes, meeting hygiene demands and the accuracy of the product’s package information and so on”.

Mikko Riskilä, from the family company Lohiapaja producing meat and fish, said an entrepreneur friend of his advised him to join REKO food group when it first came to Rovaniemi. Riskilä took part in the first meeting, and has been there at almost every event ever since. 

According to Riskilä, the profit may vary from one distribution day to another: “Sometimes sales are really good, but sometimes sales are under €200." 

But what truly matters to entrepreneurs like Riskilä is the connection he is able to build with customers who care about the local produce: “REKO is an important marketing way and a good way to get in touch with customers. It is good to see that local people care where their food comes from.”

The prices of sellers’ products are usually not much higher than that in the food chain stores. “The producers can decide the prices for the each distribution day”, Asiala said. Also, this kind of trade is more sustainable as it involves less packaging and, consequently, less waste. 

Rovaniemen reko kuva2.jpg
Photo Credit: Tanja Häyrynen, Lapin liitto
Rovaniemi REKO group is growing

At the moment there are 3,567 members in the Rovaniemi REKO group and the number keeps growing. The group was started a little more than one year ago, in May 2017, and, according to Asiala, “The success has been amazing. The group is growing all the time.” Joining the group is free both for consumers and producers, which explains its popularity.

The first REKO was launched in June of 2013 in Jakobstad. Currently, there are around 150 REKO groups in Finland with a total of about 200,000 users. “The success is growing all the time due to the growing demand for local food and sustainable solutions,” Asiala added.

The next distribution day is on Thursday, July 5, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Rovaniemen Elintarviketalo (Laajakaista 3, Pöykkölä).

City of Rovaniemi - Daily Finland Report