Five from Finland
Crunch crunch! Health, environment and animal welfare are among the reasons that make people go for more veg, less meat.Julia Bushueva
The selection of vegetarian and vegan options in supermarkets has grown remarkably in the past few years. In Finland, an increasing number of these alternatives are of local produce.
Food is life! In the case of vegetarians and vegans, it is even more so, as even the UN has called for a global reduction in meat consumption to help to save the planet and improve people’s health. One aspect not to be forgotten, too, is animal welfare.
These Finnish companies are doing their fair share to help people to fill their plates with a variety of veggie options.
Traditional Japanese food tofu gets contemporary forms in the hands of Jalotofu experts in Tammisaari. The company isn’t working towards replacing or eradicating meat; rather, the aim is to add to the alternatives that enable people to make their diets healthier and more sustainable.
“People are increasingly aware of the effects of food production on both their health and the environment,” said commercial director Jouko Riihimäki. “The fact is that the biggest increase in sales doesn’t come from full-on vegans and vegetarians as such, but from people who choose to reduce their meat consumption and opt for plant-based alternatives more often than they used to.”
Introduced to the market in 2016, Gold&Green Foods’ pulled oats made Finland go berserk for its flavour: in-shop trials sold out in a few hours and production was rapidly ramped up for widespread release in the country.
“To put it really simply, you could say that we have invented a new soy,” co-founder Maija Itkonen explained shortly after the first success. “It’s a perfect protein based on Nordic ingredients.”
Founded in 2010, Verso Food has developed a range of Härkis and Beanit-branded products that are made from Finnish-grown fava beans, an excellent source of protein and fibre and a sustainable alternative to soya.
After its acquisition in 2019 by Norway’s Kavli Group, Verso Food has remarkably accelerated its expansion to new markets and product groups while keeping its base in Finland. The Beanit products were launched in the UK in 2020.
“Going forward, we will continue to focus on fava bean innovations and strengthen our brand in Finland and abroad,” stressed Verso Food’s CEO, Tomi Järvenpää.
Moving ahead also eventually meant coming back home. Earlier this year, the company was bought by Finland’s Raisio.
These “food hackers on a quest to create new sustainable superfoods” have designed tasty and gut-friendly snacks that help to keep hunger at bay while giving much-needed nutrition and hydration to sports enthusiasts and everyone living active lives.
The Nosht product range currently includes energy chews and gels, protein bites, as well as vegetable candies and drinks. The 100-per cent plant-based recipes were created with the help of Michelin chef Heikki Liekola and professional athlete Kaisa Sali.
“Our aim is to be part of the next wave, where plant-based foods are less processed and less perishable but more nutritious and gut-friendly,” noted CEO Petteri Kankkunen.
Sweets normally don’t (and probably shouldn’t) fill anyone’s plate, but that’s not to say they shouldn’t be enjoyed. Vegans can have a sweet tooth, too, which has been taken into consideration at Makulaku.
According to the company, offering organic and vegan-friendly filled liquorice hits two growing global trends. Makulaku’s vegan products in particular have seen their sales skyrocket in the last few years, and the producer doesn’t seem to want to stop there.
“There is plenty of potential in the international market, and we’re constantly looking for new distributors,” said CEO Jorma Alanen.
Originally published in September 2017. Updated in June 2021