Neighbours complement each other in food production: Kolarctic Food Refining

Published: October 17, 2019

In the Arctic regions a meaningful part of local food production is based on what grows wild in nature. In Kolarctic region it is wild berries and reindeer. They both live and grow in a clean environment and are products of nature.
Food trends are going through big changes, partly because of changes in peoples understanding of the impact of food on health and the impact of food production on the environment. The appreciation of local food is rising.
Kolarctic Food Refining-project consortium decided to grab this topic vigorously. 11 organisations working in refining of berries, refining of reindeer or in business development work towards using and refining more and better than earlier the forest berries from Murmansk region, Nenets Autonomous Area and Finnish Lapland.

A day in the life of Kolarctic Food Refining-project

A group of Finnish and Russian food producers gathered in Kemijärvi in August. Berries find their way in various delicacies. This time, in a row of trainings, the participants are going to develop their skills in professional making of marmalade and fudge. The raw materials are cloudberry, cranberry, bilberry, raspberry. They are frozen berries, but also the by-products which are left after the juice has been pressed out. Also, another topic of the training was herbs, fermentation, tea, and the utilization of berry products in these.

Photo: Valentina Ryban from Kolskiy Kray and Osmo Kolu from Arctic Berry Finland are preparing to make marmalade. Osmo also works as interpreter in the project.

Valentina Ryban works in Kolskiy Kray  –  a company that produces berry jams and frozen berries in Murmansk region. Valentina has a background of working in big kitchens, and now it is time to develop berry products.
Connected to the project Kolarctic Food Refining, the business and the products of Kolskiy Kray are in a development phase: the company is working on e.g. product development of crowberry (empetrum nigrum), berry smoothies and sauces. Co-operation partners like Korvatunturin Marja and Arctic Berry have experience to share. Kolskiy Kray has its Russian traditions to offer: the company has worked on testing some mushroom products outside the Kolarctic Food Refining project.

The project is mingling strengths and challenges in the countries

In the background of the project there is some differences between countries and some development needs. In Finland, entrepreneurship in the branch of berry products and other nature products has been in a strong development phase for many years. The availability of berries is more or less a bottleneck in increasing of the production volume, and thus business development. The supply of fresh berries is better in Russia, and needs are  more in business development and product development competence. Motivation in Russia is growing.

Text: Marjaana Lahdenranta

Photo: Katri Niska-Honkonen