Blog post 3 - "Sustainability in the heart of business"

Vekka, Waste Retail compensationHeart symbol – sustainable nutrition is truly present in our Fresh bread business. I was happy to learn more about Lantmännen Unibake Fresh bread business in Finland and Baltics. My guests for interview were this time Minna Cousins, Commercial Director and Maija Kauppi, Cluster Innovation Manager from Vaasan, which is part of Lantmännen Unibake Fresh 

For Vaasan, sustainability is in the heart of business. Hence, sustainable nutrition is a theme which Vaasan has already contributed for many years. “Sustainable nutrition is food which is full of nutrients and value. It also means food which is not wasted and that is grown in a sustainable way. The only way our planet can survive, is when we take actions on this”, says Maija. “Yes, indeedWe should aim for the combination of healthy planet and healthy people. Also considering how are we growing our food thinking the future generations. It’s very valuable to understand the link between health and environment and educate this for young generations. We should aim for discussions about healthy diets without “black and white” thinking, and rather focus on adding healthy elements for complete diets”, Minna continues.

 

Minna Cousins, Commercial Director at Vaasan

Vaasan wants to be setting example on producing healthy, sustainable food products.  “We are part of field to fork chain and we need to be spokesperson for fiber and whole grain products. We want to contribute to be part of palette of a healthy, sustainable diet”, Minna says. These actions are visible in Vaasan daily work. Volumes of sold fresh bread high in fiber and wholegrain are 73 % and 56 %, respectively*. A brilliant example of sustainable nutrition work in Vaasan is the newest product family launch this FebruaryHeart symbol products. This Heart symbol bread family consists healthy alternatives which fulfill strict criteria by Finnish Heart Association.  In Baltics Vaasan has carried out Building on Health drivers -project, which focuses to increase wholegrain and fiber content in bread and decreasing the content of added sugar.  

Maija Kauppi, Cluster Innovation Manager from Vaasan

An important milestone was reached few years ago after extensive work with retailers in Waste compensation-project. Before this, retailers were able to order bread with a guarantee from food producer, that they will buy unsold bread back. Vaasan made a conscious decline from this: “It emphasizes, that we need to do cooperation with the whole value chain. We don’t want to overproduce more than estimated demand, because we want to avoid food waste. Andour consumer wants to know when buying our products, that they have made a sustainable choice.” 

Vaasan has also agreed to participate on Vekka -project, which aims to launch an interactive development work on key responsibility indicators and related limit values in science-based collaboration with selected industries. The project goal is also to produce the first version of industry-specific, responsibility criteria and indicators for calculation of the environmental impact combined with nutritional value.  

Beyond these projects, Vaasan has participated on Greenhouse. Last year, there were many teams with different ideas in Greenhouse Bread goes future. I find out, that Maija was there as well with her team. I ask her, how would she encourage new applicants for this year Greenhouse. “The Greenhouse is the right place to investigate, if your idea has potential! It’s the place for crazy ideas as well. There is always a golden nugget somewhere!” She would like to have more creative packaging ideas, whereas Minna hopes for entrepreneurial attitude and “out of box” -thinking. They both highlight the need for participants to know their audience and acknowledge their potential.  

Lastly, I want to ask these competent ladies, where do they see most energy in the interesting field of sustainable nutrition. “People are hungry to learn more! Lot of excitement to understand the holistic view and learn more everyday how can be this translated in organizational level”, Minna says. Maija adds, that there is also increased consumer understanding about sustainable nutrition. “For us, communication is then in even more important role. Also, I would like to explore and discover equal definition of sustainable nutrition.”  

*Vaasan Fresh bread volume sold in Finland, 2020.