Meeting with Eugenio Sapora, CEO of La Ruche Qui Dit Oui!-L’Alveare Che Dice Si! Italy

Author: Daniela Ueda, FLF student.

A network that connects directly farmers and consumers for the sale of seasonal and local produce. That’s the soul of “L’Alveare che dice Sì!”, which aims at promoting a fair and sustainable production and distribution model.

Consumers order online from a range of fresh local produce that varies weekly. They collect their produce directly from the farmers and producers once a week at a local venue. Each of these local networks – there are currently 130 in Italy – is an assembly, and each is run by a manager who’s responsible for signing up the farmers, posting the week’s available produce on the platform, and organizing the meetings.

The start-up began its operations in Torino in 2014, four years after the creation of the original platform, “La Ruche qui dit Oui!”, in France. Today, the Italian network already has 2.500 members between consumers, farmers, producers and managers. The platforms in the five countries – UK, Germany, Spain and Belgium, in addition to Italy – in which it currently operates are gathered in a movement called The Food Network.

L’Alveare’s manager, Eugenio Sapora, came to the IUC to exchange ideas with FLF students. The project addresses many of the issues discussed in the course. Firstly, an initiative such as the Alveare narrows the gap between producers, which are all smallholders, and consumers. In the specific case of the Alveare, consumers collect their order from the producers. Consequently, producers’ remuneration is higher than on a longer chain, as they have autonomy to negotiate prices.

This collaborative economy mechanism is based on a short-supply chain, and ensures that 80% of the value stays in the territory, since producers sell to consumers without intermediaries. This aspect strengthens the local economy, as the wealth created is retained, redistributed and returned to the producers. The remaining 20% goes to the platform and transaction costs.

The meetings strengthen the sense of community, as they have functions beyond food distribution, such as social, ecological and cultural. That enables alliances between political actors that act locally. The food supply system is local: the food is diversified, and is produced and distributed locally.

Sapora, an aerospace engineer, was living in France when he learnt about “La Ruche qui dit Oui!”. He moved back to Torino, where he was born and raised, and from here he built the Italian platform and started expanding to other cities.

One of L’Alveare’s differentials is the trust relationship built among the parties involved. According to Sapora, L’Alveare is the only network that verifies farmers and producers before signing them up. That task is performed by the assembly managers. The networks can take advantage of the project’s presence in many countries and exchange experiences.

One of the differences between L’Alveare and some well-established initiatives in Italy, such as the Campagna Amica market, is that with L’Alveare consumers order and pay for their produce online. This way, farmers and producers take to the weekly market only the produce that has been already sold. At Campagna Amica and similar initiatives, consumers find out which produce is available only at the farmers’ market.

 

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