Day 3:Field Trip – Lappia Institute and Brewery

By: Laura Brenes Peralta and Kiran Apsunde

Key Highlights and Learnings:

  • From the purview of Sustainable Development, diversity in economy is key. A diverse economy not only ensures diverse livelihood but is also less susceptible to financial ups and downs. During our visit, diversity in economic activities in rural Finland has been impressively noteworthy. 
  • The way in which small firms have managed to survive in a competitive is interesting: even when there is not a huge market, the support from the institutional system has been key. Moreover, no matter what the enterprises size is, they offer high-quality products. Altogether, these factors seem to have facilitated  in ensuring a diverse rural economy in Finland. 
  • Rural Finland has enormous potential to enhance their participation in markets, not from an industrialized or high yield perspective, but through a differentiated offer with added value, coming from high functional compound products or organic products like buckthorn, cherries, mushrooms and their products. Therefore, promotion of industries that facilitate value addition through transformation or differentiation should be prioritized. 

The morning briefing introduced the activities of the day and the characteristics of the area we were to visit. The presenter gave us an overview of the agricultural statistics in the Lapland region and the major economic and environmental challenges faced by the agricultural sector in Lapland region. Further, he mentioned that there would be about 1400 multipurpose farms composed of agriculture, forestry (berries and mushrooms picking), agro-tourism, and livestock: reindeer, dairy, beef and sheep. With time the sector profile in the region has witnessed significant changes. For instance, there were about 11000 dairy farms in the 1960´s which have reduced to 300 nowadays. However, the amount of production has more or less been the same. In Lappia, there are approximately 150 farms and 2 small slaughtering houses at the local level, and an approximate of 70-80 sheep farms. Tourism is another major economic activity in the country with 3million visitors/year. 

Some particularities regarding agri-foods refer to the fact that there is little dedication of areas for horticulture while berries are a highly preferred product (cultivated or picked from forests) due to the high content of polyphenols. This is influenced by the stressful climatic conditions under which they grow: 24hrs light during summer (4 months) and extreme cold during winter (8 months). Potatoes and reindeer meat have a denomination of origin, but in general the country exports lots of raw materials with low processing or value addition. The average farmer is 51 years old and there are very few young farmers opting the profession – constrained as well by the fact that land is quite expensive. 

Visit 1: Lappia Institute

This is an Agriculture Vocational Training School that guides its performance based on strategies as Smart Specialization, Technology & Industry, Recycling and Experience, together with an international and cooperation scope. The school includes areas of practice and learning in agriculture and livestock, a Rural entrepreneurship expertise center and a Gene-bank of Arctic species. For anyone to practice farming in Finland, a professional qualification is a mandatory requirement. This is where institutes of this kind play a vital role. 

Arctic Ice-cream Factory: The school has a mechanism for lending of processing-areas for private small entrepreneurs so the factory owner took advantage of this opportunity. They manage with 2 collaborators in wintertime, and they distribute their product in a truck but clients may buy directly at the plant too. The factory has a maximum capacity of producing 300 kgs of ice-cream in a day with 41 different flavours. Although, a very small set-up, the brand has quite a noticeable footprint in the market. 

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Milk Production Farm: The farm has 55 milking cows, and is equipped with hi-tech robots. The entire set-up is managed by 2 workers.

They produce 3600kg of milk/day with 4.32% of fat and they have 4 Lapland cows (that have been on the verge of extinction). The hi-tech setup of the farm enables it to produce an impressive quantity of milk with minimal manual inputs. Considering the ageing of farmers in rural lapland and the increasing number of youths not opting the profession, technology of this kind has a key role to play. 

Meat Industry: A small family business that processed 40.000 kg of beef last year. The school persuaded them to be a part of this venture and they found it quite useful in logistical terms – since because they are now located at the close to the highway and to the livestock production areas. This has ensured their access to the market.

Visit 2: Tornion Panimo Brewery

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The building we visited first began its operation in 1876 where the original brewery was established. Then famous for its beer Lapin Kulta, the brewery was sold to Heineken and the production of the beer was then moved to another town called Lahti in Southern Finland. The change in manufacturer and location, lead to change in the taste of the beer. Consequently,  the community was persistently keen to have the original beer back in market. In 2013, the current owner purchased the building and began a brewery “Tornion Panimo” that manufactures beer the original way and has further ventured into distilling whiskey – among other commercial activities in the building. In addition to seeking funds through Banks, the team has managed to obtain funds through crowd-funding platforms. In consultation with academia and field experts, the brewery now produces several varieties of beer in addition to the original version of Lapin Kulta. The production of the brewery has demonstrated an average annual growth of 60% with maximum annual production upto 500,000 litres. The case of Tornion Panimo is an impressive example of how local traditions can be preserved despite tough competition from global giants through innovative platforms such as crowd-funding. Today, Tornion Panimo has returned to its roots and continues its story.