The REKO retail and distribution model offers customers a way of ordering products directly from the producer, without the need for middlemen. The REKO markets operate via Facebook as closed groups in which orders and deliveries are agreed on. The groups are run by volunteers, who do not receive payment for their contribution.
REKO is an abbreviation for “Rejäl konsumtion” which translates into “sincere consumption”. It is based on many different ideas of direct food distribution, such as local markets and alternative food networks, such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and Association pour le Maintien dùne Agriculture Paysanne (AMAP9. The purpose of a REKO-ring is to establish an online local food market, offering an effective, direct and easy way for both local food producers, and consumers. The interaction is direct, without any intermediaries. The local food market is co-created by producers, consumers and facilitators termed administrators through a process of facilitated interaction. The communication takes place by means of a closed Facebook-group, where consumers pre-order local food directly from local food producers. Thus, the main communication and interaction medium of a REKO-ring is Facebook. The transaction process takes place at a fixed time, and at a predefined place, without any fees. Producers are responsible for the distribution, as such; they areobligated to follow local regulations on food safety, accounting and tax. Both the administrative work on the Facebook-page and the transaction process is based on the voluntary work of administrators, consumers and producers of local food. In this respect, REKO-rings defy the standard market models, as well as other alternative direct agriculture markets.
REKO started in Finland as a way to explore solutions to the problems local food producers experienced in getting access to the traditional distribution channels of traditional grocery retail. Small-scale farmer Thomas Snellman was inspired by the AMAP-system in France, and in 2013 REKO was introduces through two piloting groups in the western parts of Finland. There are now two hundred and fifty active REKO-rings, demonstrating the attractiveness of this type of a distribution, for consumers and producers alike. After the launch in Sweden in the fall of 2016, fifty rings are currently active and according to information from the producers, they are quite profitable. In Norway, the establishment of REKO has been actively stimulated by the Norwegian Farmers and Smallholders Union, as a part of a project to stimulate and increase profitability, as well as to help consumers to become aware of the importance of small-scale food production and local processing. At the time of writing, there are thirteen active rings and a myriad of other rings in the process of establishing themselves with or without active facilitation.
The idea is simple. To form a local group all that is needed is that voluntary administrators, often a small group of engaged consumers, who set up a closed Facebook group, agree on a time and a place for the deliveries. They then invite suitable local producers and consumers to join the group. Every week, producers place announcements of their product offerings on the wall of the Facebook group and consumers respond with their orders by commenting on the announcements. The deliveries take place at an easily accessible parking lot during 20-45 minutes each week, or every two weeks depending on size and popularity of group. The delivery point and all administration of the network is free of charge, which means that there are no membership fees for any of the participants.
The producers benefit from that their produce is ordered in advance and distributed quickly. At best, this reduces the amount of waste and time spent selling the produce. The consumers benefit from getting fresh local seasonal produce (meat, egg, fish, vegetables, dairy, berries, bread etc) directly from many different food producers in one place without any intermediaries. REKO has created many vibrant local food communities engaged in fruitful dialogues about the ethics of food, and how to increase local food production and consumption. There are also national networks where REKO-members from different places can share their experiences and lend support to each other.