For six years now, K Group has partnered with the Ruokatieto association to help pave the way for local products to land on store shelves by organising Local Food Dates between K-retailers and small producers. A total of 36 events have been held across Finland since 2014, attended by more than 500 producers and 1,200 store representatives. Of the K-retailers who have taken part in the events, 90% have formed new partnerships as a result. This year’s fifth and final Local Food Date was held at the end of October at the K Group headquarters K-Kampus in Helsinki, and was attended by 65 local producers.
The events have led to success stories for many small producers, some of whom have managed to multiply their sales thanks to new store contacts. For many producers, Local Food Dates have also paved the way to K Group’s nationwide selections.
Finland’s biggest local food seller
The sales of locally produced products have been rising for several years in K-food stores, with growth amounting to 8% in 2018.
“There is increasing demand for local products, and we at K Group want to respond to the needs of our customers and also help small producers succeed. K-food stores offer the most extensive selection of locally produced products in the country, and our K-retailers complement the selections with products purchased directly from local producers,” says Ari Akseli, President of K Group’s grocery trade division.
“For us, it’s natural to have local products in our selections and to collaborate with small producers, some of whom we have known for decades since working at our dad’s store. This year’s local best-sellers in our stores include strawberries, peas, basil, apples and cherry tomatoes,” says Teemu Tikkala, K-retailer at K-Supermarket Redi and K-Market Redi.
Finnish food is a value choice for K Group
• Every year, K Group sells 5 billion euros worth of Finnish food, and nearly 80% of the products sold in K-food stores are of Finnish origin.
• K Group also emphasises locally produced food, as versatile selections and local products lend K-food stores a competitive advantage.
• K-food stores offer Finland’s widest selection of locally produced products, totalling some 50,000-60,000 items. The figure varies between stores, depending in particular on store size: a K-Citymarket may offer more than a thousand locally produced products, while a small K-Market may offer less than a hundred. On average, K-food stores offer approximately 300 local products.
Examples of K Group efforts to promote Finnish food:
Local Food Date events
• 36 events held between 2014 and 2019
• Bringing together over 500 producers and 1,200 store representatives
• 5 events held across Finland in 2019
• 180 K Group representatives and 65 local food entrepreneurs at the event held on 22 October
Small producers and Kespro
• Demand for products by small and local producers is also growing among the customers of Kesko’s foodservice wholesaler Kespro
• The cooperation model established in 2016 offers Kespro’s customers the chance to support local food production, local entrepreneurs and employment and regional food culture
• Kespro helps small producers with conceptualisation and business development
• The model offers restaurants more detailed information on the origin of products and enables connecting directly with the producers
Thank the Producer model
• Additional support of over €2.6 million paid to Finnish food producers so far
• Well-known Finnish brands joined the model in 2019
• More information
• Shows customers how much Finnish products they are buying
• Recommends Finnish products
• Carbon footprint calculator to be introduced before the end of 2019
• More information
Finns increasingly favour locally produced food
Finnish attitudes increasingly support the local food trend. According to the Suomi Syö 2019 study, 82% of Finns consider it important to eat food produced in Finland, and 80% consider Finnish food to be safer. Finns also value food produced locally: 66% say they buy locally produced food at least a few times a month, and 41% weekly. People say they want to support local producers, local employment and the local economy.
Source: Suomi Syö 2019, an annual study conducted by Taloustutkimus