Workers are packing a batch of Tiira salted Baltic herring at Orkla Foods Finland’s Turku plant. They have to squeeze the silver tails into the tubs or the lids will not be able to go on later. All done, the fish is packed tightly. At the next stop, the tubs get the marinade and then the lids go on.
Orkla Foods Finland’s Communications & CSR Manager, Emma Vironmäki, says that the company’s favourite brand, Ahti Baltic herring, is also packed by hand.
“We use the best back fillets of the fish. The first fillets are placed along the tub and the rest in the middle to keep it all together. Consumers can serve the fish straight from the tub as the herrings are nicely arranged.”
No muscle needed for the easy-open lid
Orkla Foods Finland is known for a number of traditional brands. In addition to Ahti, Finns know the company’s Felix ketchup, Felix vegetables in a jar, Abba Baltic herring, Kalles kaviar cod roe paste and Jacky Makupala desserts.
At first glance, you’d think that the packages look the same as they have for decades. You will find the familiar Ahti, the god of the sea, on the lid, while the flaxen-haired boy on the Kalles kaviar tube, Abba’s then-CEO’s son Carl “Tuben” Ameln, has as youthful a smile as ever.
A lot of planning needs to go into the development of valuable brands, but first impressions of the package can be misleading.
Although it may look the same, a closer look will reveal that the large herring and pickle jars now have an easy-open lid.
“It has two parts: a panel that is sealed to the jar and an outer ring. When you twist the ring lightly, it breaks the seal,” Emma explains.
Consumer feedback on the innovation has been very positive.
“Opening the old lids required quite a lot of strength, but the new product means that even people with less strength, the elderly for example, can open jars easily. They can buy their favourite pickles without worrying about opening.”
More eco-friendly packages
Orkla has been investing in the eco-friendliness of its package lines.
“We want to be a forerunner in environmental issues. In general, companies in Sweden are more advanced in their environmental practices than Finnish companies, so this means that as a company, we have benefited from the fact that the group operates in all Nordic countries.”
A very good example is Felix ketchup, which is made in Sweden.
“The ketchup bottles are now delivered as preforms from the manufacturer, and they are only blow-moulded at our plant. As a lorry can transport a great deal more preforms than finished bottles, this solution has reduced the carbon emissions in transport by as much as 90 percent.”
The bottle also stands on its lid, which makes it easier to empty, thus minimising food waste.
Food waste is, of course, further reduced by the fact that the company offers the product in a variety of package sizes so that there is a suitable size for single people and families.
Emma explains, “we have also started using a new type of plastic in our Jacky Makupala tubs, the production of which requires 50 percent less oil-based materials than the traditional plastics.”
The ketchup bottle has developed with Finland
The ketchup bottle has followed the developments in Finland in an interesting way.
When Felix ketchup was launched in the Finnish market more than 50 years ago, the food culture was very different from what it is today. Ketchup was one of the few sauces on offer.
“I don’t think that a bottle of ketchup was on the table for every meal, it was rather a bit of a luxury. When the small 250-gram bottle was empty, people would cut a sand shovel out of it for children to play with,” Emma says.
Finns have become a nation of ketchup consumers over the past 50 years. We consume an average of around 3.3 kilograms of ketchup per head every year. This means that the usability and eco-friendliness of a ketchup bottle can make a real difference.
“People sometimes ask us if it’s OK to use ketchup with everything. I’ve heard about someone who adds ketchup in their porridge. Everyone has their own uses for ketchup.”
Orkla Foods Finland’s catalogue now includes ten different types of Felix ketchup bottles. In addition to the wide selection of packages, the product range has also expanded. There is something for every taste, from the traditional variety to black pepper ketchup, from hellfire ketchup to organic ketchup with reduced salt and sugar content.
Recycling and reusing
All Orkla’s glass, plastic, metal and cardboard packages can be recycled, and a lot of them can be reused at home.
Emma explains, “people have used our large glass jars for storing pickles for decades. A jar containing delicious food is only fractionally more expensive to buy than an empty glass jar.”
Orkla Foods Finland has carried out tests to ensure that even the easy-open lid is suitable for food preserves.
“I’d say that glass jars are more commonly reused now. It’s very trendy to give home-made food, such as jam, for a present,” she says.
Orkla Foods Finland (previously Felix Abba) is one of Finland’s leading food manufacturers. The company’s production facilities are located in Turku, where it produces pickled vegetables and fish. In addition to its own production, the company also markets ketchup, salad dressings, mayonnaise, squashes, fish products, fresh pasta, muesli, puddings, pizzas and other frozen foods. Orkla Foods Finland is a part of the Norwegian Orkla Group, which is the leader in its sector in the Nordic countries.
Orkla Foods Finland (previously Felix Abba) is one of Finland’s leading food manufacturers. The company’s production facilities are located in Turku, where it produces pickled vegetables and fish. In addition to its own production, the company also markets ketchup, salad dressings, mayonnaise, squashes, fish products, fresh pasta, muesli, puddings, pizzas and other frozen foods. Orkla Foods Finland is a part of the Norwegian Orkla Group, which is the leader in its sector in the Nordic countries
Matti Välimäki, photos Suvi Elo