Pentisol is taking its food spray to kitchens abroad
This over 35-year-old company has revamped its product line, opening the door to international markets.
Pentisol, a Järvenpää-based company that has manufactured aerosol spray products since 1981, has not only branched out to a new product category, but is also rapidly expanding its sales abroad.
The company originally specialised in industrial products such as silicones, lubricants and detergents. But after concluding that it had more or less reached the limits of growth in its industry in Finland, the firm has sought to diversify its product line in order to unlock international markets.
This brought on a new focus on foodstuff: building on its expertise as an aerosol spray company, Pentisol has added food sprays such as cooking, seasoning and olive oil sprays to its catalogue, under the name of Food Spray. Here it sells a range of cooking and seasoning sprays.
The company also sells a variety of tailored sprays as white-label products, meaning that they are rebranded and sold under the buyer’s name.
Despite being a significant actor in the Finnish market, Pentisol is a relatively small firm with its staff of 14.
“But I see it rather as an advantage, as we are agile and can start new projects quickly,” says Pentisol CEO Jari Mäkinen. “And our production line is still rock solid, so we can produce a wide variety of products, and in large quantities.”
The company’s new focus on food spray products is bearing fruit: Pentisol has signed deals in Germany and is currently negotiating in the Nordics and the Netherlands, with preliminary discussions going on elsewhere in Europe and Asia.
Its latest major contract was signed in Israel, where the firm started shipments last autumn.
The firm’s cooking spray has been an especially successful product. “It’s an easy product to sell, because pretty much every kitchen and bakery needs oil for frying, grilling and oiling pans,” Mäkinen says. “Our standard cooking spray is therefore a universal product, but we also make versions with different flavours for different markets.”
Indeed, Pentisol creates its own recipes, allowing it to tailor its products based on its clients’ needs. This is especially important when entering a new market where the food culture is different.
“Tastes and preferences vary without exception between countries. For example, in some places onion and garlic flavours may be popular, while somewhere else people prefer milder flavours,” Mäkinen says. Moreover, in Asia gas cookers are commonly used and, as they heat up the pan very hot, it poses different requirements on the heat capacity of the used oil.
Keeping it in the family
Pentisol has been a family business throughout its long history, now in the second generation: Mäkinen and his wife have been managing the company since 2011. “We knew from the start that we needed to seek growth,” Mäkinen says. “I think it’s crucial, because if there is no progress it will eventually lead to decline.”
He encourages Finnish companies in general to be more daring and seek growth from foreign markets: “There’s a lot of promising activity here that would have a good chance, but too often I see reluctance or even fear to try to go abroad. But younger generations generally seem to have a more international outlook.”
For anyone who might consider following Pentisol’s example, what should their first steps be? “Market research is crucial, you need to figure out the competition,” Mäkinen says. “You also need careful preparation, and patience not to rush but to do things properly one at the time.”