Perceptions and experiences of sustainability among producers in the REKO alternative food network in Finland

Maria Ehrnström-Fuentes*, Mikko Jauho, Piia Jallinoja

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The modern industrialized food system has faced criticism for several decades. Since the 1990s, various alternative food networks (AFNs) have attempted to increase the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the food system. A recent innovation in Finland, REKO food rings, was motivated by the desire to enhance the livelihood of farmers and to facilitate a broader change in agricultural practices. It applies contemporary social media tools to organize communication and trade between producers and consumers. The present paper analyses perceptions and experiences of sustainability among REKO producers using thematic interviews and questionnaire data. The results show that the expectations for increased sustainability are high, but the producers nevertheless face multiple challenges to ensure sustainability in their daily practices. Many producers reported having modified their production methods to be more environmentally sustainable already before joining REKO. With regards to economic sustainability, after an enthusiastic start, the positive impacts of REKO have started to diminish. Our findings point to the variations and dynamics of the experiences and perceptions that exist across locations and product segments.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalSosiologia
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)401-419
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 12.2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • alternative food networks
  • local food
  • producers
  • sustainability
  • REKO
  • Finland


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