Finnish companies, authorities take Dutch wholesaler on a food experience

In the Netherlands, the North is not often considered when it comes to importing root vegetables, not when there are plenty grown locally. Nevertheless, companies in Finland persuaded the Dutch fruit and vegetable wholesale company, Van Gelder, to visit the country to become acquainted with the country's products, gastronomy, and landscape. Agf.nl tagged along.

Gerrit van Gelder helps harvest the new FREX potato crop.

See the photo report here.

“We want to get people in the Netherlands to eat healthier and more sustainably," begins Gerrit van Gelder. "On the one hand, by increasing fruit and vegetable consumption; on the other, by bringing (new) tastier, more nutritious fruit and vegetables to market. There's potential in Finland. They offer lovely, healthy products and still have the space for full soil horticulture."

Finnish companies and authorities have joined forces in the Food From Finland program. They're building on their image as a country of origin for sustainable, responsible, healthy, pure food and beverages. Business Finland wants to be an agent of change for sustainable business and wants to help other companies and partners achieve their sustainability goals.


Tapio and Pia Knuuttila from Skabam market FREX products for export.

For example, FREX potatoes are one of the CO2-negative products presented during the trip. Producing these removes more CO2 from the atmosphere than it emits. "We look at carbon removal across the entire process, from when the potatoes are harvested to when it reaches people's plates. That's all included in the calculations," says Tapio Knuuttila.

He owns Skabam, the company that markets FREX products. The highly sustainable cultivation method, which pays close attention to soil conditions, also ensures that the potatoes have a unique consistency/flavor combination. Top chefs, like American chef Dan Barber, love these potatoes, says Tapio.

Gerrit getting a taste of a freshly-harvested beet.

Indeed, these potatoes and other products are of very high quality, as Gerrit discovered. He was there when the first new potatoes were harvested and was also introduced to raw beets and peas on the land. Although these were already tasty, as is, top Finnish chef Sauli Kemppainen, who was part of the tour party, transformed these vegetables into a wonderful culinary experience. Gerrit then received plenty of FREX samples to have his chefs try out in their kitchens.


After an hour of foraging in the Finnish woods, Gerrit managed to pick some Cantharellus.

Besides these vegetables, products that could serve as meat substitutes also inspired Gerrit. He and Marcel Gonzales, business consultant for BidFood, visited a trade fair with Finnish products and foraged for mushrooms in the Finnish forest. "Van Gelder want to be close to its customer and act as a partner. Foodservice noticeably has to focus more on vegetarians and vegans," explains Gerrit.

"We want to develop a plant-based range for those target groups. For that, we're also looking for products that have been processed as little as possible, with few additives or flavor enhancers. That matches Van Gelder's values," Gerrit concludes. He had specifically signed up as a vegetarian on the trip to see what Finnish cuisine has to offer in that regard.


Transport in Finland included a 1942 Dakota.

See the photo report here.

For more information:
Tapio Knuuttila
Skabam FREX
Tel : + 358 453 309 808
Email: tapio.knuuttila@skabam.com
Website: www.frex.fi 

Gerrit van Gelder
Van Gelder Groente en Fruit
10 Krommeweg
2988 CB, Ridderkerk, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 617 946 550
Email: gvangelder@vangeldernederland.nl 
Website: www.vangeldernederland.nl

 


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