Lingonberry drinks and marshmallows from natural ingredients in the Arctic Circle
Demand for natural products is growing – in Finland and internationally. This is due to the strong trend related to well-being. Well-being is being studied and researched from various angles. Companies are increasingly interested in the link between well-being and productivity. Individuals too are interested in their own well-being, but in an even wider sense. For example, what role does nutrition and closeness to nature play in our long-term well-being? In terms of tourism, Finland and Lapland have the potential to keep becoming more important as well-being tourist destinations, due to our natural attractions and cooperation and development between sectors. The development of the bioeconomy in the north is a key means of meeting our current and future ecological and economic challenges. The potential of the natural product sector ranges from using natural berries as a food in the manner familiar to all Finns, to the pharmaceuticals of the future.
The aforementioned changes will strongly support business development in this sector. People are increasingly interested in nutrition and their own well-being in general. Interest is also growing in the origin and content of products. Much remains to be done in terms of marketing and selling products and services in the natural product sector. Responding to demand for – and the use of – such products within the tourism sector is a challenge throughout Lapland. Tourism has a wide range of needs: in well-being services, as ingredients and garnishing on food, in interior decoration and in various kinds of programme services. Berry-picking excursions in natural settings and the use of natural products as ingredients and garnishing in food are becoming more popular.
Companies in the natural product sector still tend to be small, with just a few larger ones. The lack of suitable facilities is a barrier to business development. Facilities require relatively large financial investments and risk-taking capacity from small entrepreneurs. The City of Kemijärvi wanted to be the first to meet this challenge in Lapland. The training of producers of natural ingredients began a few years ago and incubator-type facilities have been in continuous demand. Functioning production facilities were provided for the natural product sector in the spring of 2017, through close cooperation between small entrepreneurs and the City of Kemijärvi’s Business Development Unit. The city's own development company, Kemijärvi kehitys Oy, is acting as the agent. Support for the related survey has been provided by the Luonnosta liiketoiminta (Luoli-hanke) ‘Business from nature (Luoli project) funded by the regional ELY Centre.
Sanna Jämsä, who moved from Rovaniemi to Kemijärvi, is one of the tenants. Her firm, Wild from Arctic, makes products such as marshmallows from various natural ingredients. She operates as a tenant of Kemijärvi kehitys Oy’s facilities. “I think that the basic ingredient is the key factor. Here, Lapland's natural environment provides winning elements that can’t be found elsewhere: the world's cleanest air, the long bright nights. Wild, northern ingredients that have grown in the Arctic region are clean and their fragrance and levels of prized contents are special features that make them highly appreciated on the international market,” says Jämsä. The lingonberry drink produced by the cooperative Aapa Lappi is a particular favourite among international tourists.
“Enterprises from outside the region are just as interested in the natural product sector as those in the Kemijärvi area. The change in consumer behaviour and clear and growing demand in the markets are the reason why they are approaching us,” says Jari Polvi, CEO of Kemijärven kehitys Oy.
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