The aim is to bring life on the farm and news about the sheep as close to customers as possible, so the farm website plays an important role in direct sales.
Oulujoen Karitsa is a sheep farm in Utajärvi that sells lamb direct to consumers. Sheep farmer Riikka Juntunen thinks it is important that their operations are as transparent as possible, so that customers know what they are getting. Everything the farm does which is visible to the outside world is essential to direct sales. The business has found its customers through the internet and its website.
– Not everyone uses the internet, of course, so newspaper advertising is also important, but the internet is the main channel. People can find out about what we do, through our blog, for example, Riikka Juntunen explains.
At the farm, the growing popularity of local food can be seen in increased interest from consumers. This is why Riikka Juntunen sees the growing number of producers in the area as a positive thing. Cooperation between the different farms is good for everyone and helps to solve the same problems that everyone comes up against in their work.
– I know that there are more businesses starting up in the Oulu area but there’s room for all of us. As people learn how to use lamb in their cooking, its popularity will increase. At the same time, we are able to share transport to and from the slaughterhouse. That means you don’t have to take the whole flock at once, you don’t have to take lambs that are too small or keep lambs until they are too big, Riikka Juntunen sums up the benefits.
From engineer to sheep farmer
Riikka Juntunen originally trained as an engineer. A few years ago, she rented a small part of her uncle’s fields. For pasture, she also uses forest land and different landscape management grazing sites. Returning to the area where she was born and a desire to find work there were what inspired her to switch sector. Learning something new has been a lot of work but she doesn’t find anything insurmountable.
– I was just talking to another sheep farmer about how many bits of paper you have to fill in in order to get a retail permit. It isn’t an impossible task as long as you fill in the forms correctly and make sure that the cold chain isn’t broken.
At Oulujoen Karitsa, the food premises are a mobile trailer. Riikka Juntunen only uses it to collect meat from the slaughterhouse and transport it to customers. Without food premises, consumers have to collect their meat from the slaughterhouse themselves, which would require more staff to take care of sales.
Important to know what you are buying
Riikka Juntunen finds the cooperation between farms constructive. Farmers share tips and nobody needs to learn everything the hard way. The most important thing when it comes to sales is to keep your promises. Busy periods at the slaughterhouse mean that it isn’t always possible to be completely certain of the meat delivery times, although that is the aim.
– It’s important for customers to know when they will get their meat. It’s important to know the slaughter date and the date on which the meat will be delivered in advance. This means the slaughterhouse needs to keep to its schedule too.
As a businesswoman, she tries to bring life on the farm and news of the sheep as close to customers as possible. To Riikka Juntunen, it’s important that customers can visit the blog, see pictures of the sheep and read about them. This enables her to bring their welfare nearer to buyers.
Text: Saara Kärki
Photos: Riikka Juntunen