What is a REKO Ring?
REKO is a Swedish acronym which translates as "responsible consumption".
It's a model that connects customers directly with local farmers, makers and growers, with a shared goal of supporting small scale producers and creating a market that encourages ethical production values.
Each REKO Ring has a private Facebook Group where the producers and makers advertise what they have available to purchase at the weekly pick-up.
Customers order by commenting on the vendor's post, and pay the producer by direct deposit. Each week at a pre-determined location and time, producers aggregate to place the orders into their customers' arms.
Bringing the REKO Ring concept to Australia
In early 2020, Jacki Hinchey of Blue Dog Farms (pictured) heard about the REKO Ring concept (watching her morning news) and immediately identified it as an opportunity that she would love to bring to Australia.
Within weeks of hearing the idea, the world went into lockdown and Jacki remembers the REKO Ring model, which she believed would be an opportunity to support local producers, makers and growers that were hurting due to supply chain issues and lockdowns.
To support the growth and development of the very first REKO Ring in Australia, RDA Moreton Bay commissioned the development of a Digital Marketing Strategy and implementation of an introductory period.
This included the development of brand guidelines, a REKO Ring landing page on a central website platform feeding into the Facebook group, a REKO development plan and social media pperational plan. A video of the Dayboro market day was also created.
Since this initial funding, the inaugural REKO Dayboro has grown to become a sustainable model, now adopted by seven local REKO networks throughout South East Queensland.
Establishing the Dayboro REKO Ring
A REKO Ring was established in Dayboro within a week of the first COVID lockdown. Its initial appeal and 'organic' growth attracted a Facebook membership of over 500 in the first week. However to scale the REKO Ring, more buyers were needed.
To attract more buyers, more REKO Rings (and locations for distribution) were sought both within and outside the region. Finding a ‘pickup’ place in each region was undertaken by the REKO Ring vendors who volunteered to be administrators.
Given the risk involved in expanding, assistance was sought with marketing and securing buyers beyond the agribusinesses’ existing networks in Dayboro.
RDA Moreton Bay commissioned an agency to provide a Digital Marketing Strategy to assist with the REKO Rings’ establishment elsewhere.
The growth of REKO Ring in Moreton Bay has been substantial. The model is accessible and duplicable, and most of the Moreton Bay REKO Rings were established within 10 weeks of the first lockdown. Word-of-mouth lead to 30 vendors participating weekly by the end of 2020.
The digital ecosystem has grown. On a Saturday morning, vendors now have the option of meeting buyers at Samford, Dayboro and North Lakes. They can also choose to supply a mid-week REKO Ring at Red Hill (outside the region).
Project Survey Findings
To ascertain (qualitatively) the difference participating in the REKO Ring had made to vendors a short survey was conducted. The survey found:
Over 60% had an increase income (with one vendor stating the increase was from $150 to $2,000 a week)
80% of vendors had an increase in customers
40% reported a reduction in their costs
50% experienced growth in their business
30% increased their production