A new plant-based food consortium has been launched in Finland, with Oatly’s manager of public affairs in the country, Niklas Kaskeala, acting as chairman of the group.
Kaskeala told Just Food he will retain his position at Oatly while leading the association.
Officially founded earlier this month, Plant Based Food Finland (known as Pro Vege in Finnish) intends to boost the amount of plant-based food produced and sold in the Nordic country.
“The climate crisis and the destruction of nature cannot be solved without changing the food system, and for health reasons, diets should also be changed to be more plant-based,” Kaskeala said in a statement.
Eighteen founding members are part of the coalition so far. As well as Oatly, these include producers and retailers such as Food Farm, K-ryhmä, Kotipizza group, Lidl Suomi Ky, Lipasu, MeEat Food Tech, Mö Foods, Nordic Umami Company, Oy Soya Ab, Porlammin Dairy, Raisio Oyj, SOK, Tmi Jukka Kajan, Virna Food Radecon, Vöner, WWF Finland and Ylva Palvelut.
The group intends to encourage an uptake of plant-based food by making it “attractive to as many people as possible.”
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Some of its main tasks, Kaskeala confirmed, will include developing “strategic advocacy directed at key policymakers”, carrying out and “commissioning research and surveys pertinent to the sector”, running industry-focused “collaborative events and seminars”, and putting in place “communication strategies, providing training, offering consultancy, and leading campaigns focused on plant-based nutrition.”
A focus will be placed initially around plant proteins and plant-based milk products, with the group viewing these areas as “particularly essential in terms of the sustainability of the food system.”
Speaking on how Oatly will be involved, Kaskeala said: “My role in leading a working group on behalf of Oatly during the autumn to facilitate the formation of the association, and my subsequent appointment as the chairman of Plant Based Food Finland, underscore Oatly’s dedication to ensuring that the association emerges as a significant influencer in the sector.”
The new chairman added that he expected the “main challenge” of the consortium to be finding ways to make plant-based foods more enticing to “mainstream consumers”.
He added: Additionally, a significant hurdle is presented by various policies and market structures that creates a disproportionate competitive landscape”.
Over the past year, some Finnish plant-based companies have witnessed an increase in competition amid “a slowdown in consumption growth”.
Some companies in Finland have faced a challenging environment for plant-based food production this year. In October, Fazer Group, which abandoned its dairy portfolio in February, said it had seen decelerating category growth, due to “slowdown in consumption” amid growing competition and increasing capacity in Europe.
But the company said it remained positive that consumption would be “expected to grow” in the future.