If you are interested in information events about direct sales, come and join us!

Across Finland, there is interest in guidance on selling direct to customers. At events, there are enthusiastic discussions and people work together to find solutions to problems they have encountered.

The website www.aitojamakuja.fi/suoramyynti provides three guidelines. They are divided up according to the type of operation into direct sales of primary production, retail food sales and small-scale production and sale of food products. These cover own checks, transport, permits, and structural and functional requirements for sales and preparation. The website includes a wealth of links and templates that help businesses along the way.

The frequently asked questions column on the website is particularly popular. Entrepreneurs across Finland are thinking about the same kinds of questions, so raising these questions and answering them is also important in terms of harmonising monitoring. Entrepreneurs can send their own questions through the “ask us” link where we then find the answers in partnership with Evira. True Flavours area members and municipal food control authorities are also happy to help on all these questions.

So far, over 100 entrepreneurs have attended the events held. Besides entrepreneurs themselves, events have also been attended by advisors in the food sector and food control professionals. A link for discussion between the different actors has been a very important factor. Entrepreneurs have been able to ask the opinion of control officers in their own area on the things that are concerning them and at the same time the control officers have broadened their knowledge of the practical questions that entrepreneurs encounter in their own operations. Not all questions can be answered on the spot, however, and if they can’t they are passed on to Evira, who provide an answer quickly. Questions and answers are published in the latest column on the direct sales pages www.aitojamakuja.fi/suoramyynti

Guides in English

Direct_sales_of_primary_produce

Retail_sales (minimum requirements for a food establishment)

Food_manufacture_and_sales producing food and selling unpackaged food of animal origin

Regional events are organised in cooperation with True Flavours area members and MTK/SLC organisations for each area. Check the list below for when and where information events are being held.

KoneAgriassa Pihvikarjaliiton järjestämä seminaari, Jyväskylä 8.10.
Pohjois-Savo 8.10.
Lähiruoka on bisnes! -seminaari, Tampere 9.10.
Liminka 15.10.
Rovaniemi  22.10.
Hollola 29.10.
Turku 11.11.
Luumäki 12.11., klo 12
Mikkeli & Pieksämäki 13.11.
Iisalmi 13.11. klo 10-14
Savonlinna & Juva 14.11.
Kuopio 24.11. klo 10-14
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.

Local food shop was born in the wake of a Christmas market

To the delight of local producers, Iitan lähipuoti is being run in Saarijärvi by a two-person team. Customers appreciate the local products.

Mira Koivunen and Miila Sopanen run the local food shop Iitan lähipuoti in Saarijärvi. Lähipuoti opened its doors at Easter 2013. In the past 18 months, they have become familiar with running a shop and all the bureaucracy involved. Nevertheless, they have not regretted their decision to start running a business. It all began at the Christmas market held in Saarijärvi in 2012.

– There were products on sale from local producers. At the time, the emphasis was on crafts and there was only a small amount of food on sale. Lots of people were asking where they could get more from in the future. We latched onto the idea and drew up a plan, Mira Koivunen says.

The budding entrepreneurs naturally decided to sell crafts but both of them had a desire to expand the food side. The final impetus to start the business came about precisely due to the growth in demand for local food. The pair had thought about starting a business before but it was in the local market square that it found its final shape.

iitan_lahipuotiLocal products appreciated

Koivunen and Sopanen got to know the products sold by Iitan lähipuoti and their producers at the Christmas market. They also already knew people beforehand who they asked to join them.

– When word started to spread during the spring, many producers came to us themselves to offer their products. Today we bring in new products ourselves to some extent but mainly producers offer us their products for sale, Koivunen says.

The business has found its customer base that values local products. The producers are also pleased that the shop has given them a channel through which they can sell. Hand-made, durable and high quality products attract appreciation.

– It’s true that the current economic situation has an impact but we have faith that times are changing. Saarijärvi is a small place, so you do sometimes wonder whether there will be enough customers. Fortunately, we are a place with lots of holiday cottages, so the profits from summer and Christmas see us through the quiet times, says Koivunen.

Shopping online too

Running a shop also means the pair have had to learn the twists and turns of the law. The regulations for running the food side are particularly stringent and precise. This means that they can’t satisfy all the wishes of their customers instantly.

– People ask us to sell lots of things, including raw milk, but the rules don’t let us. On the food side especially, people have lots of things they would like to be able to buy, Koivunen says.

In the future, they aim to develop the shop business. There is an online shopping project in progress across the whole of Saarijärvi with an online shop set to open before Christmas.

– We’ve also cautiously thought about our own production and what the two of us could make. How to grow suitable products under the Iita name. We’ve got lots of plans, let’s see if we manage to realise them, Koivunen laughs.

Find other local and/or organic food shops

Text: Saara Kärki
Photo from www.facebook.com/iitanlahipuoti