The purest and safest food in the world from East and North Finland!
The East and North Finland in Industrial Transition working group together with Food Valley organized an EU Green Week side event on 26 May 2021 with the headline “Purest and safest food in the world! – Sustainable food production in East and North Finland”. The recording and presentations of the event can be found on ELMO-website. Here is a brief summary of the content of the event:
Emeritus Atte von Wright opened the event by telling about the challenges of the northern location. Although the northern location does not allow large volumes of food production, it offers significant qualitative advantages. Long and challenging winters reduce the need to use pesticides and plant protection products. Because the environment is clean, there are few contaminants or heavy metals found in the food we produce globally. New challenges are constantly emerging in food production, but Finland has the know-how and tools to meet current and future challenges.
Sari Iivonen, from the The Finnish Organic Research Institute, told that organic production has been a pioneer in sustainable food production. Increasingly, sustainable measures such as organic production are also being used in conventional production. Especially in Eastern Finland, there are a relatively large number of agricultural areas covered by organic production. The European average for the share of organic production in total agriculture is 3%.
Ardita Hoxha-Jahja from Savonia University of Applied Sciences mentioned that Finland consumes the most milk per capita in the world. Pohjois-Savo is one of the leading milk-producing municipalities and Kuopio is the largest milk-producing municipality. On global scale milk production facilities are small,, but milk is produced in large quantities per cow. Animals are not treated in vain and GMO feed is not a problem as cows are fed on grass. The value chain of milk has been digitalised from the farm to the store shelf. This allows for individual monitoring and follow-up and early intervention of potential problems.
Jenni Korhonen spoke about new technologies being researched at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) to increase food safety. Forest-derived antimicrobials, such as compounds isolated from the pine biomass by-product, may find new ways to inhibit the growth of pathogenic food bacteria. In connection with high pressure processing (HPP) technology, UEF is cooperating with a company that owns the HPP equipment, Toripiha. The effect of HPP treatment has been studied e.g. norovirus growth inhibition in berries. In addition, the use of LED technology is being explored as an opportunity to reduce the use and processing of additives to improve food preservation.
Jouni Ponnikas from the Regional Council of Kainuu spoke about the Berry + partnership under the EU’s Smart Specialization Platform, which has been built between eight European regions under the leadership of Kainuu. From Finland also Uusimaa region is currently involved in the Berry + partnership. The nterregional partnership and it’s complementary cooperation opportunities have been built through value chain analysis. The aim of the Berry + partnership is to increase the efficiency of the processing of renewable natural products and their by-products into value-added products.
Finally, Susanna Luostarinen from Nordic Koivu Ltd explained how the birch sap they produce can be traced all the way from the store to the forest area from which it was originally collected. Nordic Koivu is able to collect hygienically high-quality birch sap from a clean environment with the help of innovative technology. The quality remains good also because the birch sap is not being frozen, but at the same time its shelf life is excellent.
– Jenni Lappi, Project Manager, Savonia University of Applied Sciences