Wild berries – arctic delight for the health conscious consumers
Finns have the luxury of living amidst healthy and pure super foods, wild berries,found basically everywhere –even in the proximity of the biggest cities.
In addition being a national health asset, wild berries are an important export crop for Finland. The annual crop of forest berries in Finland has been estimated at more than 500 million kilos. Approximately 50 different species can be found in all kinds of environments from rocky seashores to swamps and forests. Of all the different species of forest berries in Finland roughly 20 are edible. Lingonberry, bilberry, cloudberry and crowberry have the biggest crops. But also sea buckthorn, arctic brambles, bog bilberries and rowanberries are used in special products.
”During the growing season, berries get a lot of light – they grow very fast, and their taste is enhanced by the sun,” says Simo Moisio, director of Arctic Flavours, a berry association in north east Finland. Finland has probably the purest water in the world used by our wild berries during the growing season; as to the cultivated berries, the use of pesticides is lower in Finland than in more southern countries thanks to the cold winters killing off bugs.
Bilberry – packed with vitamins C and E
Arguably Finland’s most important berry export is the bilberry. Densely packed with nutrients, the humble bilberry, or wild blueberry – which carpets the forest floor during July and August – is winning a lot of fans in Asia in particular. Simo Moisio describes it as Finland’s most famous super fruit. ”It has three to four times more anthocyanine polyphenols than cultivated blueberries” he says. The berry is also packed with vitamins C and E and a source of dietary fiber.
Berry industry in Finland is flourishing
A whole industry has grown up around the health properties of local berries. ”There are over a hundred small firms making berry products”, says Simo. ”They make berry powders, dried berries, smoothies, shots, cold pressed juices, liquors like crowberry and Arctic bramble, extracts and snacks. Many of the exotic products made from forest berries are also possible to export.”
Finland’s small batch producers are enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment, with renewed interest at home and abroad in high quality specialist food and drinks based also on berries. Producers are finding unique new ways to use natural Finnish ingredients. Kaskein Marja’s Managing Director Pekka Koivisto is an example. Their company’s future, producing e.g freeze dried and exceptionally fine berry powders, seems very positive as the global demand is growing. For Example health-conscious consumers in South Korea can’t get enough of Finnish bilberries, where they are considered natural, fresh and clean – with bilberry juice and bilberry powder being the most popular items.
The processing of the traditional ingredients in Finland is modern and efficient. “We take special attention to controlling the production chain that is transparent from the forests to the packing. Sophisticated production methods and precise quality control ensure that the quality of our handpicked wild berries is appreciated when our clients receive them,” says Vernu Vasunta, CEO of Kiantama, a leading manufacturer of ingredients made of berries.
Naturally Delicious Food from Finland is presented at the Food Ingredients Europe Paris 1.-3.12.2015 at Hall 7 Stand G12. Welcome!
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