Smart Specialisation » S3 Innovative food chains

Innovative food chains

Developing the setups and operating methods of food chains is one of the most significant matters in achieving climate objectives. Climate crisis and the decline of biodiversity require massive reorganization of the global food system. Locality and development of local food systems has been identified as one of the key solutions. Short food supply chains and food that is produced near the consumer will play a prominent role in adjusting the future food system on a sustainable track. Most effective development of an inno¬vative food system and chains is implemented regionally.

Southwest Finland is often called Finland’s granary and indeed many of Finland’s leading food producers can be found in the region. Food of Southwest Finland is linked both in the blue and green bioeconomy. Blue bioeconomy covers aquaculture, water management, fishery as well as resource-efficient food produced with the closed loop system. Green bioeconomy refers to food system raw materials grown in fields and forests of the region and products thereof. Most of bread cereals, oilseeds, protein crops and potato grown in Finland are cultivated in Southwest Finland. The Southwest Finland region is also a significant pork and egg producer. Most Finnish fishers carrying out freshwater and sea fishing operate in the Southwest Finland area. Raw materials originating from Southwest Finland, such as oat, herring, mushrooms, berries and game, as well as plant-based origins of protein, such as quinoa, lupine, pea and broad bean, offer sustainable development opportunities for dining tables.

The food chain plays a key role in the regional economy of Southwest Finland. It employs approximately 16,000 people. Several small and medium-sized food industry companies operate in Southwest Finland as well as a wide range of diverse restaurants, having an important role in the local circular economy. The number of food processing companies in the area is the highest in Finland (approximately 11% of the companies).

Southwest Finland is a forerunner in food-based sustainable development in Finland

The priorities of Smart Specialisation Action Plan in the innovative food chains focus area are:

  1. Blue and green bioeconomy food production and development skills and products
  2. Regional and multidisciplinary joint development of food products and experiences
  3. Utilisation of digitalisation and technology in sustainable food system development

Southwest Finland is a forerunner in food-based sustainable development in Finland. Active cooperation between the multidisciplinary experts in business life, universities, educational institutions and public administration has well established traditions here. As a result, a high level of competences related to food and food chains have accumulated in the area. Finnish functional foods approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), such as the full xylitol chewing gum and Benecol products, come from Southwest Finland and provide excellent examples of the cooperation between companies and the University of Turku. The first circular economy roadmap in Finland has been drafted for the Southwest Finland region, and the food-oriented multidisciplinary sustainable development testing platform, Living Lab Flavoria, was launched in the area. The Food Tech Platform Finland network combines the competences of the universities, educational institutions and companies in the area and aims at creating new, science-based innovations in order to build a new, sustainable food system.

Southwest Finland has skills and provides education on different stages of the food chain, for example, on primary production, product development, processing, utilisation, marketing, circular economy, food education, climate impacts, social impacts and understanding consumer habits. Operators of different fields are experienced in doing things together and continue to reinforce and deepen their cooperation. Understanding customer needs and the choice of food have an impact on the sustainable food system as well as our wellbeing. The cooperation with international partners and identification of the value chains between the areas open a door to new innovations and export opportunities.

Actions and coordination to promote the priorities

Innovative food chains-related measures in 2019–2021 are:

  • Strengthening inter-sectoral dialogue, a joint situational picture and regional Entrepreneurial Discovery Process in the context of Food Tech Platform Finland cooperation
    • identifying the network of operators and key companies belonging to Southwest Finland’s food system
    • highlighting and identifying already recognised strengths and specifying potential new strengths
    • launching applicable multidisciplinary research and development projects.
  • Strengthening foresight and predictive working methods by utilising for example the Southwest Finland Foresight Academy environment and methods.
  • Identifying existing and potential interregional value chains as well as compensatory strengths.
  • Increasing international visibility, partnerships and cooperation projects by joining in at least one European Union smart specialisation platform partnership.
  • Building a new local food system pilot in cooperation with the City of Turku, universities and higher institutions in Turku, regional food producers and processors, companies offering enabling technologies and residents of the area.

The measures are coordinated by the University of Turku’s Food Tech Platform Finland, Valonia and the Regional Council of Southwest Finland in active cooperation and dialogue with research institutions, universities and companies in the region.

More information:

Programme Leader Laura Forsman, Food Tech Platform Finland, University of Turku
Tel. +358 40 514 6146, E-mail firstname.lastname@utu.fi

Head of Department Riikka Leskinen, Valonia – Service Centre for Sustainable Development and Energy of Southwest Finland
Tel. +358 44 907 5995, E-mail firstname.lastname@valonia.fi