Ostrobothnian rapeseed oil cheese brings health to the world
The Food and Nutrition Programme, ERA, invested in Kyrönmaan Juustomestarit cheese makers, who specialise in rapeseed oil cheese. In conjunction with this investment, Juustoportti Oy became one of the owners of Kyrönmaan Juustomestarit. Signed on 19 December 2006, the agreement brings new opportunities for both companies to enter international functional food markets.
Kyrönmaan Juustomestarit cheese makers is a company that employs 20 persons and it is a forerunner in the manufacturing of its main products, the functional cheese products made from rapeseed oil. Located in Isokyrö, in the region of Ostrobothnia in Western Finland, the company is management owned and it has for years worked in close co-operation with Juustoportti specialist dairy manufacturers. Juustoportti’s history goes back 40 years and it is a family business employing 90 staff and operating in Jalasjärvi.
Sitra’s Food and Nutrition Programme ERA makes investments in food companies whose products have growth and internationalisation potential. A venture-capital investment by the ERA programme means in practice a fixed-term minority holding.
“Our investments are geared for five years’ involvement in and development of the company,” says Jukka Aaltonen, Investment Director for Sitra’s ERA Programme.
The special cheese products of Kyrönmaan Juustomestarit, with the Julia and Julius trade names, are well-established brands in Finland. They are the only cheese products that are fully made from rapeseed oil, and they bear the Heart Symbol launched by the Finnish Heart Association and the Finnish Diabetes Association.
“The reputation of rapeseed oil as a vegetable oil with proven health benefits is spreading throughout the world. There is increasing evidence that products made from it help lower cholesterol levels. Sitra’s investment provides us with the tools to respond to increasing demand and to look for new markets,” says Timo Keski-Kasari, the owner and Managing Director of Juustoportti who has over a long period developed the specialist dairy field. The closer co-operation resulting from the investment boosts the growth and internationalisation of both companies.
Ari Alhokoski, Managing Director of Kyrönmaan Juustomestarit, is happy with the additional resources created through Sitra’s investment. The Board of Directors will be strengthened by the additional competence of Mr Keski-Kasari of Juustoportti and by Sitra’s involvement. The Board will be chaired by Heikki Kauppinen, who is the senior adviser and mentor in Sitra’s ERA Programme. After a successful career in Unilever, he has served on the boards of various food companies, such as HK Ruokatalo, Halva and Mildo.
“Small companies can succeed in the international market with their specialist products and if their marketing skills are also developed to an international level,” says Kauppinen.
Timo Keski-Kasari, Managing Director, Juustoportti Oy, tel. 0400 567366
Ari Alhokoski, Managing Director, Kyrönmaan Juustomestarit, tel. +358 500 178 234
Jukka Aaltonen, Investment Director, Sitra, +358 500 415908, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heikki Kauppinen, Senior Advisor, +358 400 409491, email@example.com