Verso Food, a company acquired by Raisio, brings fava beans to our plates: “There is global demand for fava beans grown in Finland”
The Beanit and Härkis products made of fava beans have been a hit with Finns. Jukka Kajan, Head of Stakeholder Relations, explains that the company intends to use its new owner Raisio’s networks to next conquer the international market.
“Verso Food Oy, a company acquired by Raisio in spring 2021, was behind Beanit’s fava bean innovations. The invention was less about accelerating vegetarianism and more about creating food from Finnish ingredients. Back in 2010, the founders were thinking about how Finnish raw ingredients could be used for new food innovations. Beanit’s Härkis products were launched in 2016 and, together with the pulled oats products that entered the market at the same time, created a buzz around vegetable proteins.
Our goal is to produce food as efficiently as possible with minimal resources. The production of plant-based food is generally very resource-efficient when you look at the food produced in relation to the used area, water and other investments in production. Emissions are relatively low and the process is efficient, as the aim is to grow food that can go directly to people instead of first growing feed for livestock, for instance.
We also promote the circular economy in other ways. The side streams of food production are particularly interesting. For instance, fava bean pods, which are left over from food manufacturing, have been used as plant litter in gardens. Raisio uses side streams innovatively: for instance, the side streams from oat products are used for energy production in the company’s factory area. The lessons learned from Raisio are sure to help us utilise even more side streams at our Beanit plant in Kauhava. In fact, one of our main products originates from production waste. Small pieces were left over in the production of our Beanit fava bean chunks. The pieces were too small to be sold as chunks. We came up with a commercial application for these pieces as our fava bean mince, which turned out to be a highly popular product.
People have an ingrained idea that promoting sustainability in business activities means more investments and costs. But the opposite might actually be true in the great scheme of things. Any company would like to take advantage of everything produced at the different stages of its process. It makes economic sense.
With Beanit and Härkis, we have become the market leader in Finland, and we will do whatever it takes to hold onto the position. There are also other excellent vegetarian protein products on the market, and these are pushing us and the whole sector forward. There is a market for our products particularly among omnivores with increasingly plant-based diets. When we produce low-emission food, our effectiveness increases as volumes grow. This creates a motivation for strong growth, also outside Finland’s borders. Our business potential depends on how normalised eating a plant-based diet becomes.”