Developing our local food offering is a long-term effort

K Group grocery stores offer the largest selections of locally produced food in Finland, comprising as many as 50,000–60,000 products. Work is carried out continuously to develop the selections both at the stores and at Kesko. At the end of August, producers in the Turku region showcased their products to K-retailers at our Local Food Date event.

Even though food prices are at the forefront right now, consumers continue to be interested in Finnish and locally produced food. From the perspective of future food production, this is a positive trend that has strengthened as a consequence of the uncertain world situation. According to the K-Barometri survey conducted in August, 79% of K Group customers say that they buy products to support Finnish production, and 58% say they buy the products of small producers.  

Locally-produced food can be found especially in the bread and brewery departments. Fruit and vegetables play an important role in store-specific selections especially in the summer and early autumn, when local selections are at their best. The selections include, for example, strawberries, peas, lettuce, new potatoes and other products of the season. Local food can, however, be found in every section of the stores. The most rapidly growing product categories at the moment are ciders and ready-meals.

“Developing local food selections is a long-term effort. This year, we have invested particularly in operating models that help even more small-scale producers get their products included in our store selections”, says Laura Koponen, purchasing and sales manager for local food.

Offering a wide selection of products by small producers is a way for K Group stores to take responsibility for local businesses, food culture and jobs. For many local producers, getting their products on a K-store shelf is the first step. Cooperation between smaller operators and K-retailers tends to be easy and natural, as the retailers make decisions on their store’s selections themselves. In addition to individual stores, local food and products by small producers also play an important role in Kesko’s selections.

“Our goal is to grow our local food selections, and we are constantly looking for interesting small producers to add to Kesko’s selections. This brings growth opportunities to small operators: producers can get their products included in our selection lists, making it possible for more and more K Group stores to order the products. Logistics also become easier with the entry into our centralised selection. Last year, the number of suppliers of local food products increased by approximately 10% from the year before”, says Koponen.

One concrete example of the measures to increase locally produced food are the Local Food Date events organised by K Group since 2014 across the country. At the end of August, the Local Food Date event in Turku brought together over 30 producers and more than 60 K-store representatives from Southwest Finland. Brinkhall Sparkling, a cider producer based in Salo, was one of the participants.

“The best thing about the event was meeting retailers face-to-face. We already got some orders during the event, and were also contacted after the event. At the moment, our new range of ciders is only available at around 20 K-stores, so this was a great opportunity to tell stores still unfamiliar with our products about them”, says Susanna Ekblom from Brinkhall Sparkling.

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