New guidelines for direct sales help entrepreneurs and consumers

True Flavours has worked with the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) and the Central Union of Swedish-speaking Agricultural Producers in Finland (SLC) to put together guidelines for entrepreneurs on starting direct sales and food processing.

Consumers are looking for short, easily traceable delivery chains, and direct sales are an answer. One in two consumers has purchased food directly from the producer in the past year (52%) and over 80% intend to do so in the next year (Suomen Gallup Elintarviketieto Oy, 2013)

For entrepreneurs, direct sales offer opportunities for better producer pricing, independence in planning the running of your own business and better targeted, resource efficient marketing. Partly for this reason, agricultural businesses are even more interested than ever in starting direct sales (Suomen Gallup Elintarviketieto Oy, 2014).

One major question and stumbling block in promoting direct sales has been the different interpretations of food legislation for small-scale, low-risk operation. This has also been raised by agricultural entrepreneurs themselves (Suomen Gallup Elintarviketieto Oy, 2014).

For this reason, the prime purpose of the direct sales guidelines is to serve as a tool for entrepreneurs planning direct sales and/or food processing activities. The guidelines answer the questions: How do I start? What permits do I need? Who can I sell my products to and how much can I sell? One major aim is to lower the threshold of entrepreneurs for launching direct sales of their products, starting processing activities and to meet ever-increasing market demand. Explore the guidelines here: (in Finnish and Swedish so far)

After the event, the guidelines will be launched to businesses at regional events, including

KoneAgriassa Pihvikarjaliiton järjestämä seminaari, Jyväskylä 8.10.
Pohjois-Savo 8.10.
Lähiruoka on bisnes! -seminaari, Tampere 9.10.
Liminka 15.10.
Rovaniemi  22.10. klo 12-15
Hollola 29.10.
Turku 11.11.
Luumäki 12.11., klo 12
Mikkeli & Pieksämäki 13.11.
Iisalmi 13.11. klo 10-14 Olvi-halli
Savonlinna & Juva 14.11.
Kuopio 24.11. klo 10-14 Maaseutuhotelli Eevantalo
Tampere, Ahlman 27.11.
Hyvinkää, Knehtilän tila  3.12. Hyvinkaa
Lohja, Koivulan kartano 4.12. Lohja
Juuka 8.12. Suoramyyntiohjeistuksen_info_8 12 2014_Juuka
Kitee 9.12. Suoramyyntiohjeistuksen_info_9 12 2014_Kitee
Kajaani 10.12.

There will be additional event days and programmes will be set out in more detail. Check announcements at and

Alternative ways of buying directly from the producer

You want to buy directly from producers but you don’t want to have to go round to each producer separately. How can this equation be solved? There are alternative buying channels, such as the REKO model, food co-ops and community-supported agriculture (CSA) schemes.

The REKO model

REKO is a model designed for producer and consumer groups doing business together, in which a written purchasing agreement is entered into between the producer and the consumer for a set period of time, e.g. two months. The producer delivers the products ordered to an agreed location once a week at an agreed time, e.g. between 6 and 7 p.m. The REKO model is cost-effective and saves time for both parties.

REKO is ideal for you if you want to buy fresh, clean, good food at a reasonable price, if you want to know where your food comes from or prefer to buy local organic products. REKO means you get fresher food, you aren’t paying for unnecessary advertising, packaging or transport and you are supporting your local community. At the same time, you get the chance to meet the producer of your food, and you can meet “kindred spirits” and share your experiences or maybe swap recipes. Buying fresh, seasonal products also provides environmental benefits and you might even encounter varieties that you might not necessarily find in ordinary shops.

More information

Food co-operatives (ruokapiirit)

In food co-operatives, a group of consumers jointly order a large amount of local and organic produce directly from local producers. Joint orders are made using an order form usually once a month and are delivered to the distribution point on an agreed day, when the members of the co-operative fetch the products they have ordered. Food co-operatives are usually run by volunteers. Larger food co-operatives are often run as organisations, where members pay a small membership fee to cover costs.

The advantages of food co-operatives are getting fresh and safe local or organic food, ease of ordering, a reasonable price, high-quality produce and traceability direct from the producer without intermediaries. Typical products ordered from food co-ops include cereals, vegetables as well as herbs and spices. Some food co-operatives also offer the option of ordering organic meat, eggs, honey or dairy products, or even laundry products, foreign organic produce or Fair Trade products.

More information
Diagram of the process of launching a food co-operative from Jenni Saarinen’s dissertation, Laurea University of Applied Sciences (in Finnish):

CSA schemes

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a community made up of the farmer and consumers. In this co-operative venture, the farmer does not sell the food he or she produces to wholesalers and on to chains of retailers but directly to consumers. The difference between this and an ordinary food co-operative is that the farmer sells different kinds of food shares which are paid for in advance, usually in early spring. These make up the farm’s annual budget. In return for their share, the members receive the farmer’s harvest for as long as it lasts.

The risk of this model is that if the harvest is poor, your food basket won’t be as full as it might be. The good side of a CSA scheme is that the members have a say in what is grown in the fields and can help to grow the crops as volunteers in a community project, maybe even arranging a harvest celebration. Members of a CSA community also know in detail where their food has come from and how it has been grown because they are able to take part in growing it themselves. The food is clean and locally produced, straight from the field to the kitchen. The CSA community can work together to minimise farming methods that place a heavy burden on the environment, transport, packaging and the number of intermediaries, which means that CSA is usually very environmentally friendly.

More information
CSA schemes in different parts of Finland

Direct sales guidelines for producers

The popularity of direct sales is constantly growing among different target groups (consumers, retailers, food co-ops, restaurants, etc.). Nationwide development work aims to make it easier to bring entrepreneurs and different target groups together. True Flavours has put hard work into promoting direct sales and further processing on the part of small businesses by increasing dialogue between entrepreneurs, customers and food legislation. One concrete example of this is the direct sales guidelines soon to be completed, which will increase the know-how of entrepreneurs looking to start high-quality direct sales, and provide advice on how to get started. Direct sales is the future. All we have to do is make it happen successfully.

Text: Pauliina Hakanen and Johanna Mattila