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Finland to the forefront of healthy nutrition

Sitra´s Food and Nutrition programme takes up a great challenge


Press release 17 August 2005 The long-term goal of Sitra’s Food and Nutrition Programme, ERA, is to make Finland a model country of healthy nutrition. Finland could be the pioneer in combining health promotion and international business. The programme was kicked off by launching a national strategic process for development in the field. There is no doubt that nutrition is closely linked to health, and recent research only confirms this. At the same time, public health has become a challenge for national economies. Promoting well-being and decreasing the risk of illnesses presents a significant opportunity for the nutrition field. In the future, responding to those needs may even be the key issue for the development of the field. Therefore, Finland’s renowned and versatile know-how in healthy nutrition will create significant opportunities for business development in the area. Strategy first “Finland has every opportunity to develop into a model country of healthy nutrition by making the right strategic choices and encouraging collaboration across fields,” says Anu Harkki, Programme Director. Scheduled to last five years, the first stage of the programme is the strategy process in which some twenty leading representatives of the foodstuff industry and the public sector are participating. The purpose of the strategy process is to create a vision between the different actors of what the key factors are for Finland’s success in international foodstuff markets and to define common goals and measures for achieving the set goals. “This is a remarkable project, particularly because of its wide scope. We all know that good health starts with healthy nutrition and lifestyle. The fact that industry, research and the public sector, starting with the Director General of the National Public Health Institute, are all sitting in the same strategy meetings is bound not only to promote healthy nutrition but also to sharpen the competitive edge of our foodstuff industry,” says Harry Salonaho, CEO of Valio, Finland’s largest dairy company, and a member of the strategy process. Research, capital investments and building a nutrition cluster Top research in the fields of foodstuffs and nutrition can be utilised with improved effectiveness by focusing on strategically important areas. The aim of the programme is to coordinate research in collaboration with the National Technology Agency of Finland (Tekes) and other actors in the field. The recently completed Tekes programme, Innovation and Foods 2001 – 2004, forms a solid basis for the commercialisation of research, an aspect which Sitra’s programme aims to strengthen further. The goal for the Food and Nutrition Programme, ERA, as well as Sitra’s other programmes, is to develop new business. Significant capital investments will be made in the course of this programme. These investments will support the internationalisation of the SMEs in the field. Sitra is prepared to invest more than €10 million in the field of nutrition. “I am convinced that co-operation between small and large foodstuff companies will bring success and new opportunities to both ends of the sector,” says Harry Salonaho. “Building a nutrition cluster will at best produce new functional food products and concepts that benefit from a multi-disciplinary approach. The programme will further establish good practices in promoting health and even open up export channels,” Harkki concludes. Further information Anu Harkki, Programme Director, Sitra, tel. Tel. + 358 9 6189 9458 or +358 50 431 1651