Name of organisation
Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség (Nyíregyháza Community Buying Group)
Type of organisation
civic food network, community buying groups, sustainable food and agriculture, digital technology, collaboration
Digital technology, Education and Information
Who is the Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség?
The Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség is a civic network that links local producers with local consumers via an online platform and a physical pick-up point in the city of Nyíregyháza (north-eastern Hungary). It is a unique buying group because it was created out of citizens’ need to raise awareness about sustainable food systems and high-quality local products. Today, they are considered the Hungarian leader in supporting small-scale farmers and businesses by engaging with local communities, connecting food producers with local customers, and co-creating the network by mobilising its human capital to meet its members’ needs. Most importantly, the Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség network supports the creation of new community buyers’ groups across the country.
Values & mission
The aim of the Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség is to help increase the consumption of locally produced food and other goods, and thus revitalise the local economy. It also aims to promote community approaches to supporting local farmers and sustainable territorial food systems.
The initiative operates based on strong principles of ecological sustainability. In particular, products sold through the online platform are rated on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the most sustainable, based on five aspects:
- Place of production and the origin of raw materials used
- Quality and type of production.
- Type of processing.
- Waste generation
- Larger ecological impact
The rating system enables conscious and more sustainable consumption through the careful selection of products while also incentivising producers and small businesses to adopt more sustainable production methods, reduce waste, use more environmentally friendly packaging.
From a social equity perspective, the association cooperates with organisations that support marginalized groups in the city of Nyíregyháza either via collecting products for donation or by allocating 1% of their income to local civil society organisations.
The Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség operates as a non-profit association. It includes close to 50 producers located in Nyíregyháza and surrounding areas, about 20 volunteers and 200 actively involved consumers.
Decision-making is in the hands of the buying group’s core team composed of a champion and several founding members. From conceptualisation to implementation, they play a crucial role in developing new strategies and documenting activities.
Nevertheless, volunteers and producers are engaged at all levels (e.g. organizational development workshops, producer meetings) in shaping the future of the community.
Producers sign an agreement with the association about the goods they will deliver.
Who does the Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség work with and how do they do it?
Producers benefit from the Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség by receiving information on consumer needs and demands. They alsogain access to a convenient online marketing channel, which does not require producers’ direct presence for long periods as is the case with farmers’ markets, for example. In some cases, the association has successfully launched crowdfunding campaigns to help producers diversify and provide new products (e.g. free-range, local eggs) to the network’s consumers.
Consumers benefit by obtaining reliable information on the products’ environmental sustainability and by accessing local, fresh, and healthy produce.
Furthermore, all actors – producers, volunteers, buyers – are valued in the network and benefit from regular learning and knowledge sharing activities, embodying the principles of a learning organization.
The Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség has trained and supported the creation of about a dozen buying groups across the country based on the model it developed. It continues to support these groups by facilitating knowledge sharing among them on key aspects, from effective external communication and outreach to new customers to inspiring volunteers. It also fosters opportunities for economic cooperation through joint branding of community products.
Importantly, while the Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség owns the software behind the online marketing platform, it shares the software and the platform with other buying groups. All groups contribute to maintenance costs and pay a solidarity rate to cover the services of an IT specialist for adapting the platform based on the network’s evolving needs. The collaborative approach renders the platform affordable to buying groups while offering a high-quality online marketing channel for many farmers and small businesses.
What are the Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség’s main challenges?
One key challenge the network faces is attracting active members who are knowledgeable in community development and committed to environmental sustainability while also being skilled in digital technology.
The lack of funding for innovation in digital technologies for small businesses makes it difficult for them to maintain a high standard of rapidly transforming technologies.
Another area of concern is that organic producers in Hungary are mainly supplying Western European rather than local markets.
What are the priorities for the Nyíregyházi Kosár Közösség?
A key priority for the network is to create a cooperative enterprise to expand its commercial activities, which are now beyond the scope of the association, and a shop.
Another area of focus is organising workshops to enhance cooperation between producers to leverage synergies and better coordinate the production of certain foods.
In order to help their value chain operate more effectively, the network would also like to explore innovations in digital technology to enable the following functionalities:
- Predict the weight of orders and the size of necessary storage space prior to pick-up by consumers.
- Calculate and notify consumers of anticipated delivery time
- Enable direct payment to farmers instead of payment transiting through the association’s bank account, which generates additional tax.
Finally, the network would like to foster collaboration and mutual learning with other buying groups across Hungary. The long-term vision is a network with strong, independent member organisations across the country functioning in an interconnected but decentralised manner.