Five From Finland
These five companies have taken a creative approach to vitamin-loaded Arctic berries found in abundance in Finnish forests.Julia Bushueva
Whether turned into culinary delights or used as ingredients in cosmetics and wellbeing products, Finnish berries are not only nutritional powerhouses, but also the key to success for many innovative local businesses.
The Nordic climate, with its short but luminous summer, makes local berries particularly tasty and healthy. Packed with vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fibre, berries are one of Finland’s most valuable export products.
With over 500 million kilos of berries growing in forests across the country each year, here are five companies bringing the best out of these pure natural ingredients.
With roots going back over 100 years, this Turku-based family enterprise has come up with an inventive way to provide health-conscious consumers with a daily dose of Nordic berries, in a drinkable format. Roberts’ Berrie “shots” are made from whole berries, including the skin and seeds, which are rich in flavonoids, vitamins and fibre, and can be stored at room temperature.
“The great innovation behind all this is the standardisation of the berries,” said CEO Mikko Roberts. “By standardisation, I mean that we can, for example, guarantee the conservation of bilberries for eight months. Thereby, the availability of berries is constant and we are not dependent on the harvest or location.”
Global interest in health-enhancing foods is rapidly growing, and so are orders on Roberts Berrie online shop, as well as the company’s exports to China, South Korea and other countries.
“Berrie products are designed for anyone who is interested in nutrition and wants to take care of their health,” Roberts summarised.
Founded in 1990, Aromtech is a market leader for Arctic berry oil products, with a special focus on sea buckthorn oil. The company has its own factory in Tornio, Lapland, which produces high-quality berry oils using the delicate supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) method, allowing to maintain all the bioactive compounds of berries.
Aromtech exports over 80 per cent of its products, with nutritional supplements and cosmetic ingredients among the key product categories. The positive effects of Arctic berry oils on health and general wellbeing are now enjoyed not only by humans. In 2021, Aromtech launched a BERRYOMG-branded line of dietary supplements for pets, offering a helping hand for owners caring for their pets’ skin, hair, mucosa, ageing or allergies.
For Aromtech, science and nature come hand in hand: the company has been constantly collaborating with universities, its solutions are backed up by over 70 clinical tests, and more than 50 scientific papers have been published about its ingredients and final products.
Founded by a husband-wife duo who moved to Finland from the US in 2008, Ainoa Winery has set itself the goal of filling the gap in the market for berry wines made from locally sourced ingredients. Originally met with a great deal of scepticism, the idea of turning Finnish blueberries, raspberries, cloudberries and lingonberries into flavoursome wines has proved a success with both consumers and the industry’s top experts.
Over the last few years, Ainoa has picked up an impressive haul of international awards, including in the prestigious Vinalies International Wine Competition in Paris. Thanks to the international recognition and the ability to pair perfectly with Nordic cuisine, Ainoa’s berry wines have also found their way on the wine lists of some of the most celebrated restaurants in Finland.
“The secret to our success is the berries” said co-founder and CEO Paola Guerrero de Cohen, commenting on Ainoa receiving eight medals in France earlier this year. “Great wine is only possible when it starts with great fruit, and our success in tastings is only possible because we are using Finnish berries – the best in the world.”
Vaasa-based Taiga Chocolate has found its niche by combining premium handmade chocolate and exciting flavours from Finnish nature. Thanks to freeze-drying, the wild bilberries, lingonberries, raspberries and sea buckthorns found in each chocolate bar retain up to 97 per cent of their vitamins, which is almost as if they were picked straight from the forest.
Aiming to become a “world-class brand that brings a positive feeling to people worldwide”, the company has set its sights on international markets from day one. Last year, for example, Taiga Chocolate was among the carefully selected Finnish companies that introduced their high-quality food products to the global superyacht industry with the help of Business Finland.
“The pureness of Finnish nature, health benefits of berries and happiness are all things that can be communicated with chocolate,” said CEO and sales director Tanja-Maria Davidov. “For long, our slogan has been ‘happy energy’, and in the future we want to focus on […] conveying happy energy even more.”
Inspired by the purity of nature in Finnish Lapland, Arctic Warriors is on a mission to make local wild herbs and berries world famous by turning them into a wide range of tasty products and healthy superfoods.
All the ingredients, such as blueberries and lingonberries, as well as spruce sprouts, nettle, roseroot and angelica, are sourced from the company’s own network of farmers and wildlife pickers to ensure the best quality and support local communities.
“We strongly believe that the natural product industry is the future growth sector in Lapland,” emphasised CEO Katja Misikangas. “All factors speak for it: trends and people’s growing interest in products that boost wellbeing. And, of course, the excellence of Lappish raw ingredients. Due to the harsh growing conditions, they are the most effective in the world, according to research.”