Finland Finds Way To Export Frozen Vegetables

November 27, 2001
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Finland, partially within the Arctic and with very harsh winters, is an unlikely exporter of vegetables, but a company near the Finnish city of Turku is using a combination of rich soil, extended summer sunshine, and high-tech processing facilities to do just that.

Mention Finland and people think of frozen Arctic forests, not sun-ripened produce. But Apetit, a division of the Lannen Tehtaat Food Group, is in the business of sun-ripened frozen produce, with a hearty export trade to places like sunny Italy.

Apetit’s headquarters is at Sakyla, just outside Turku, in the heart of Finland’s richest farmland. The company specializes in a broad range of produce, from peas and parsnips to cauliflower florets and, carrots. Other products include a variety of root vegetables, zucchini, rhubarb, and boiled potatoes.

Apetit takes advantage of an uncommonly favorable combination of rich soil, extended sunshine, and high-tech processing facilities. “Finland isn’t just dark winters,” said Petri Pyssalo, technical manager at Apetit. “In the summer, it’s just the opposite, and our midnight sun makes produce as sweet and good as it gets!”

In addition to a full-service laboratory for product development and quality control, Apetit has been using FLoFREEZE® IQF freezers from Frigoscandia Equipment since 1974.



CAPTURING QUALITY

As Apetit’s market has expanded beyond the country’s borders, production capacity has had to keep pace. To meet the demand for the 1997 harvest, Apetit went for a new, high-capacity production line.

The needs included a freezer that could run for 22 hours a day in three shifts; a hygienic freezer that would be easy to clean thoroughly; and a freezer that could turn out seven tons of high-quality peas an hour.

“Finnish summers are intense, but short,” explained Pyssalo. “Once the produce is ripe, it’s got to be harvested, and then there’s no waiting if you want to maintain quality.”

NEW GENERATION

The freezer chosen takes only an hour and a half to clean, so a 22-hour run is no problem. Capacity? Up to 7.5 tons an hour, if necessary. Quality? Pyssalo said there is no clumping with such tricky products as boiled carrots and potato strips.

Harvest time in Finland is particularly hectic. Peas are just one of many products in line for instant freezing, but each product has its own special properties that must be taken into account when processing.

“We can change from one product to another in minutes,” observed Pyssalo. “There’s a complete production program in the PLC (Programmable Logical Controller) that gives instant, accurate production parameters for any of our products. There’s hardly any downtime at all.”

Up-to-the-minute processing information is available at all times on the PLC. In addition, the freezer is equipped with inspection doors that allow in-operation inspection.

“It’s good to know we can inspect without shutting down,” Pyssalo concluded. “But, in fact, we’ve learned that we don’t really need a lot of inspections.”

Publication date: 12/03/2001

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