Food market survey for Matera



Looks like Matera is a good place to test ideas!

When [Matthias] proposed to develop the project in Matera, I hooked him up with [Lois]: she has been doing wonderful work mapping all the small-scale producers both in Matera privince and in Potenza (ongoing) and we have had ongoing discussions on how to adapt the mechanism behind Epelia to Matera. As [iamronen] correctly pointed out, is we want to contribute to setting up a pan-European network of small-scale food producers, we have to take into account “the social / cultural / economic compatibility and adaptivity”.

When Epelia made it to the semi-final of the EU Social Innovation Prize (Congrats again!), [Matthias] and Micha kindly offered us the opportunity to represent Epelia in Bilbao: in this perspective, Lois and I have been working ro produce new content since we are already in the testing phase of the content. I wanted to share our thoughts with all of those interested in strengthening the local productions and helping out small-scale producers by giving them the opportunity to sell their processed products aborad without intermediaries. 

How things are right now (please correct if something is wrong!): 

  • Epelia has built a pool of buyers which use the platform to pursue online specific products (how many of them?)
  • the buyers compose their orders themselves by choosing their products within an offer made by 150 local producers
  • it's not about fresh food, it's about processed food (oil, cheese, ham, sottoli, ecc.)
  • you want to go International: Matera is the first test for enlarging the network of small-scale producers
  • local weekly markets in Matera will act as logistic hubs
  • combined shipment is the way to reduce shipment costs


  • there are 2 markets in Matera: the one in Piazza Ascanio Persio and the one in Piccianello (check (1) and (2) out on Open Street Map)
  • they sell mainly fresh food
  • they are daily
  • there is no organized distribution: in Piazza Ascanio Persio the sellers rent the huts out by paying a fee to the Municipality, and bring their products themselves by car every morning. Same thing in the Piccianello market place although there the situation is less organized as there is more space for setting up your stand freely. 
  • the small-scale producers Lois mapped out which have interesting products do not deliberately sell at the markets in Matera. 

After our last discussion, I believe that we should work this out in the following way:

  • we look into the mapping work and come up with groups of products sold by the SMEs in the Matera province (cheeses, jams, sottoli, ecc.)
  • we design different basket typologies (we could start with 3 or 4)
  • you contact the Epelia buyers and tell them: "hey, we are giving you a new opportunity: you can buy directly at the market in Matera now! We are kicking-off with 3-4 established baskets and if it works we are going to go grow the offer and you will actually be able to compose the baskets yourself. But for the moment, we need stability and support, so if you want to go for the baskets, you have to subscribe to a certain amount of shipments"
  • since we are speaking of processed food which can be consumed in time, I guess that 1/month can be enough?
  • they won't actually buy the stuff which is sold at the markets in Matera but we can keep the narrative to make it appealing ("your basket straight from the Matera market with no intermediaries")
  • once we have a certain number of orders we can go for the first shipment (Lois is collecting the information on pallet prices)
  • I would also encourage a "buyer-bring-buyer" approach, so if a buyer introduces a new person to Epelia he gets a little suprise parcel for free in the basket

What do you think?


Great to see this is moving forward…

Wow, lots of work happening behind the scenes with Epelia, well done guys :slight_smile:

And Matera is more and more proving to be a useful test bed for community solutions to all sorts of challenges.  Lucky it, and us who stand to benefit.

Quick first reply

Thanks you, Lois and Ilaria, for your great work, ideas and initiatives :slight_smile: I have briefly talked about your post with Micha this evening, and here are some first thoughs we came up with. I guess we should discuss it more in dept or you want me to clarify in writing (… b/c I’m quite tired right now :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Your idea about creating a report / analysis of product groups and their production locations is very useful as a first step for whatever concept will result for Matera - Lois, please go ahead :slight_smile: It can or should be a relatively quick exercise of 1-2 weeks max., since then the new software should be ready (Epelia in Italian) and we can start with concrete uses …

We think that the food basket scheme that you proposed is actually a good idea for an “add-on” once a food producer network is in place that allows customers to order “like in a webshop” from small food producers (which includes, selecting the products they need at the moment). Micha experimented with a similar scheme as an “add-on” on Epelia, called “Probier Mahl Boxen” (roughly “test-me boxes”, but it’s a play on words in German). They contained products from several producers combined to let people test new things they might like to order later.

The farmers’ markets seemingly work different in Matera than what we expected, so we’re not sure how the Epelia concept can be adapted to the style they work in Matera. To explore that, we found that we have some open questions, you probably know the answers already:

  • How large are these farmers' markets? I was at the Ascanio Persio market when in Matera ... it seemed quite small, and semi-permanent. For comparison, in the next city from my place (similar size as Matera, about 70k people), the farmers' market is twice weekly with 50-70 sellers.
  • For the Epelia concept, we're looking for a kind of "welcoming space" where all small-scale producers will find a physical space to sell when they intend to sell their products. Is that possible on these farmers' markets at all? Maybe there's something else like that in Matera? It can also be a market that happens once a week or once a month ...
  • Why do the producers that Lois mapped out not sell on the two Matera farmers' markets? Is it because the type of customers is not applicable, or because these markets are only for fresh food etc.?
  • Which products are (at least at certain times of the year) available with hard-to-sell surpluses in Matera and the Matera province?
  • What are the sales channels and customers of the small-scale producers on Lois' list? So, if they don't sell on the farmers' markets, do they sell to local restaurants mainly, or to purchase chains etc.?

Micha suggests that we should start from the “supply side”: researching what is available from Matera’s producers (as you suggested), then getting the product offers from Matera’s producers online “in webshop style” and seeing what kind of interest this finds in Germany when offered together with combined shipment.

Lois’ research on the 2 markets in Matera

What follows is Maria Piera’s (aka Lois) research on the daily markets in Matera. I am only here to order the information and translate it. 

  • in both markets there is a mixed selling system: farmers who directly sell the products of their farms and dealers who buy and sell farm products
  • the management of the stand differs from market to market: 

​Piccianello Market

  • History: in the 80s, the Ortomatt consortium was given the ability to build and manage the new slaughterhouse in the rural village nearby called La Martella. A couple of years later, the same consortium was granted the restauration of the old slaughterhouse in Matera as well as the management of the fruit and vegetable market which would've been organized inside it. In 2013 the management of the spaces was passed on to professional associations (Conferescenti, Confartigianato, CNA and Confcommercio). 
  • 3 types of stands:
  • 3 metres (outdoors): 62.50€/month
  • 6 metres (outdoors): 125€/month
  • indoor boxes: 10€/ m2
  • 13 outdoor stands
    • 11 stands of products sold directly by the producers
    • 2 stands of dairy products sold directly by the producers
  • other stands (both indoor and outdoor) where you can find "conserve", pasta and local honey:
    • 2 buchers
    • 2 fisheries
    • 2 shops with dairy products and other products
    • 1 shop with products "a chilometro zero" ("zero km products" with no intermediaries)

For the Ascanio Persio Market it is mainly the same thing, other than it is managed by the Municipality and the prices are a bit higher.

Other equally interesting realities in the city, but less well known, are

  • the midweek market in one of the historic neighbourhoods called Sierra Venerdi: 13 farmers/sellers
  • the Saturday market "Friendly Countryside" where only direct sellers come with the products they produce themselves

There is a very small group of GAS (Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale) but it is difficult to analyze as they distribute the products in a place managed by a group of people involved in a dispute with the municipality of Matera.


The quantities of goods sold is difficult to establish as this would require interviews with individual producers. We can affirm that big purchase chains and local restaurants have their own distribution centres (CEDI).

This is why we think that proposing Epelia as a digital infrastructure to reach new markets without intermediaries is something that can really support local producers. When you look at the numbers of enterprise mortality in Basilicata in the agrifood sector, the numbers are depressing.

Lois&iaia joint proposal: 

Products we can introduce in Epelia:

  • wine
  • oil
  • cheese
  • cold cuts
  • pasta
  • salty and sweet biscuits
  • honey and jams
  • preserved food (local grilled vegetables preserved in oil)
  • pasta

No! this is not dried tomato, but “peperone crusco”: sun dried local pepper to crumble on pasta

 No! this is not a fresh tomato but local red eggplant :slight_smile:

And this is what happens to local red eggplant when it is preserved under local olive oil

The “RiPienO” concept:

  • detailed mapping of farms in the area
  • comprehensive list of products and their availability (freshness)
  • creation of "cells" with 10 same products: the diversification can come from the price range so people can choose and local producers don't enter in negative competition
  • creation of a variety of virtual baskets
  • if it kicks off, Epelia users will be able to compose the baskets themselves

EPELIA’s strength: 

  • online since: 15.10.2011
  • registered customers today: 3169
  • online shops: 151
  • registered products: 2760
  • online products today: 1562
  • newsletter subscription: 2005

We’re going for this :slight_smile: