For A Fresh Nordic Flavour
Eat&Joy Farmers Market (Maatilatori) welcomes you to a unique markets in the heart of Helsinki or Helsinki Airport offering seasonal, Nordic tastes with food and produce both local and organic.
The markets are open seven days a week and have delicacies from more than 500 small producers across Finland: wild reindeer (poro), salmon, artisan cheeses, berry jams, fish roe, hand-crafted beer and cider, mushrooms, rye bread, smoked specialities, kyyttö forest cow, artisan chocolates and much more – all direct from the producers.
Take home the true taste of Finland!
Eat&Joy Farmers Market is a business venture with its roots in the country’s environment, history and culture. It takes the best quality produce from small producers in the Finnish countryside, gives them a coherent brand identity, and makes them available for the first time ever as premium retail items.
This document explains the background, the organisations involved and the wider context for the project in terms of the New Nordic Kitchen.
People and background
Established in 2002, Uni One Oy was originally owned by its three directors: Jari Etelälahti, Eeropekka Rislakki and Aki Arjola. The company office is in Helsinki. The core business of Uni One Oy was publishing and project management; innovation as the guiding principle.
Before Uni One transformed from a publishing company to a food retailer, there was an evolution which looks quite logic – if you look at the time line from the present to the past. During the early process we didn’t have a clue concerning our future as a retailer of locally produced whole food.
Viisi Tähteä (Five Stars)
Uni One Oy published Viisi Tähteä (Five Stars), the premier information channel for the Finnish experience economy. Viisi Tähteä appears as a monthly food and drinks industry newspaper and a daily online news service – www.viisitahtea.fi.
The newspaper and online service combined had around 250,000 readers each month. The online service was the largest business-to-business website in Finland, by visitor numbers.
Uni One Oy – Finland’s leading promoter of restaurants and food culture
Uni One projects
In addition to the core publishing business, Uni One Oy developed a number of other related projects and ventures since 2002. The unifying factor underlying the entire enterprise however was for Uni One Oy to work as a innovator and leader in Finnish food and restaurant culture.
1. The original Best of Finland competition
* Launched in 2004 in co-operation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
* Its overall aim was no less than the reinvention of the Finnish countryside. The project seeks to locate the very best of local food and drink, from small producers, thus bringing high-quality gastronomic products to market and a new economic viability to rural areas
* The best products and raw materials were judged by an independent panel of the best Finnish chefs. Including Markus Maulavirta, the pioneer of the local food movement, who later became a shareholder of the company.
2. Eat&Joy events
* Eat&Joy was an annual two-week event in Helsinki at the end of September, organised by Uni One Oy. It also ran up to four times a year in other European cities
* Launched in 2004, Eat&Joy aimed to bring international food and drinks knowledge, and new gastronomic skills, to Helsinki based restaurants. It also sought to draw attention to three specific areas: the high quality of Finnish food from the country’s small producers, the New Nordic Kitchen, and to Finland’s cutting edge creative efforts in art and design
* Eat&Joy was targeted at the international media. The event and its partners have brought more than 1000 of the world’s top travel, food, design and lifestyle journalists to Finland. Titles represented include Time, Elle, Wallpaper*, National Geographic, the New York Times, Gourmet US, the BBC, the Independent, the Guardian and the Financial Times
* Eat&Joy has proved so successful, both as an event and as an idea, that a dedicated English-language website was launched in 2006 to support its work, www.eatandjoy.com
* Eat&Joy had its usual focus on Helsinki but was also expanded to include Baltic neighbours St Petersburg and Tallinn
* Since 2008 Eat&Joy went to Berlin, Paris, Washington and Zurich
* Eat&Joy was organized in co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the City of Helsinki and more than a hundred Helsinki-based restaurants
* Finnish President Tarja Halonen was a patron of the event in 2008
3. The 50 Best Restaurants in Finland
* This project started in 2004 and had its origins in a feature for Viisi Tähteä. Its aim was to increase appreciation of Finland’s restaurants by listing the top 50 each year in a handy guide book format and in the newspaper
* The selection of the 50 restaurants is both democratic and very well informed. About 200-300 leading professionals from Finland’s restaurant industry – both chefs and others – are given the chance to vote for the establishment they see as the best. This creates the 50 Best list
* The list is available via Viisi Tähteä (in Finnish), The 50 Best Restaurants in Finland book (in English) and a website, www.50bestrestaurants.fi
* One of the most important elements of the project is the annual awards ceremony, a meeting point and networking opportunity for the best of the industry in Finland
* Uni One Oy also organised a 50 Best project in Tallinn for the first time in April 2008
The New Nordic Kitchen
In this first decade of the 21st century, there has been a newcomer among international cuisines: the New Nordic Kitchen which has its roots in the culture and environment of the Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden).
The idea of the new Nordic Kitchen had been building for some time, but it wasn’t until 2002 that a group of top chefs and Michelin-starred restaurateurs gathered together to create a manifesto. This helped it to accumulate a critical mass around the Nordic countries and now there is interest all over the world.
The New Nordic Kitchen has been praised in the international food media and has become a true challenger at the top table of cuisines. Leading restaurants that take the Nordic approach include Finds (Hong Kong), Aquavit (New York), Routa (Barcelona), Bistro Stockholm (Stockholm). Olo (Helsinki) and Noma (Copenhagen). These are not only capable establishments on their own terms, but also stand comparison with the most illustrious eating out venues anywhere. Noma rose number one on the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2010.
There are two foundations to the New Nordic Kitchen: the intensity of raw materials created by the Nordic climate, also the skills and experience of small producers.
In the North, we have clearly defined seasons. Our winter may be cold, dark and long but the short summer sees the sun shine almost the whole day through. This makes for incomparable aromas and flavours, a benefit simply unavailable elsewhere.
Sadly, the quality and versatility of these ingredients still has the status of a well-kept secret, so the New Nordic Kitchen movement seeks to promote the excellence of Nordic products and their culinary potential.
There is obvious ecological and moral value in maintaining a diverse gene pool among the North’s flora and fauna but there is also an economic and cultural potential too. Nordic history is bound up with its environment and traditional high-quality foodstuffs – these foodstuffs also need an economically viable future however. In promoting various items to restaurant professionals and consumers, the New Nordic Kitchen helps furnish this future but also pays strict attention to agriculture, species numbers, availability and historical meaning. Also taste!
These efforts are paying off. A number of top chefs around the world have started to pay attention, including Ferrán Adrià of ex-El Bulli, the legendary restaurant in Catalonia often rated as the very best on the planet.
Finland and the New Nordic Kitchen
Finland and the output of Finnish local producers occupy a central role in the New Nordic Kitchen because Finland is the only genuine agricultural country in the Nordic zone. In addition, its geographic position gives it knowledge, skills and techniques also drawn from Russia and other eastern neighbours.
Finns have long been used to having better strawberries than everywhere else in the world for instance but didn’t realise that this applied to other items too, especially those grown in a sustainable manner by small producers. Finnish forests are home to at least 50 wild, edible berries and only half are used commercially. These are hardly found outside Finland, even among its Nordic neighbours. This surely holds out commercial potential and there are many other such examples.
It has become obvious through the work of Uni One Oy that you can look at any category of foodstuff and Finland has both a producer and a product to challenge the very best in the
world: Sallan villiporo (wild reindeer from Salla), fish from the cold waters, Lapin puikula (Lappish almond potato), kyyttö beef (forest cow, an original breed of Finnish livestock), herbs, root vegetables, corn, artisan cheeses and berry wines to name just a few. Top chefs such as Rene Redzepi (Noma, Copenhagen), Matias Dahlgren (Hotel Grand, Stockholm) and Markus Maulavirta (Ilmatar at Design Hotel Klaus K, Helsinki) were among the first to pick up on this fact. As a result, they have travelled across the country searching for high-quality ingredients specifically for use in their restaurants.
Not even Denmark or Sweden can match Finland for produce – plus Finland has the advantage of more agricultural land in northern latitudes where that intense summer growing season makes such a difference.
Retailing Nordic foods – problems and solutions
The dedication of Finland’s small producers has seen them take the flavour, aroma and quality of their output to unprecedented levels; leading chefs now want the produce for their kitchens. So why is it hard for consumers – both Finnish and international – to find the produce outside restaurants? Why can’t they buy?
The answer is complex. It concerns the centralisation of retail businesses, the structure of Finnish agriculture, the scattered location of small producers and logistical problems with distribution networks which are, as yet, insufficiently developed.
Products go to restaurants in large wholesale quantities but there has been no coherent retail equivalent.
Branding has also been notable by its absence. This means it is hard for a consumer to distinguish between a mass-market product and a more individual, high-quality alternative.
The experience of Uni One Oy in running the Best of Finland competition however created the inspiration for Eat&Joy Farmers Market as a business – it also gave Uni One Oy the knowledge to overcome these challenges.
In 2006, Uni One Oy decided that it could help with the marketing of the very best Finnish produce by freshening up its image and giving it appropriate and attractive design and store surrounding – creating a Eat&Joy Farmers Market brand.
The product group consists mainly of Best of Finland competition winners of course, plus some other select and high-quality items from all together more than 500 small producers.
Eat&Joy Farmers Market – a business for the 21st century
The core concept for Eat&Joy Farmers Market is to take the country’s unique food and drink products, combine them with a world-beating Finnish design sensibility, and make them available to national and international markets.
The branding builds on the idea of exclusivity. Finland does not have an unlimited stock of premium foods but what it does have is pure, fresh, simple, sensual, seasonal and ethically produced – equivalent to our national characteristics. This inbuilt rarity is a message in itself for the Eat&Joy Farmers Market, not just in a luxury sense, but also conveying the idea that all resources are finite.
Eat&Joy Farmers Market product range then represents the quality, potential and values of the country. Its items are not just ‘shop stuff’ – they are an important part of the Finnish national identity as well as a major contribution to the New Nordic Kitchen.
Let’s give an example from Finnish Designer Harri Koskinen (b.1970) who is one of the best-known young designers in the world, and also a shareholder of Uni One Oy. Harri is responsible of the design of Eat&Joy stores, but other items too as:
Eat&Joy Splint Basket – Giftaway by Harri Koskinen
First Eat&Joy design item to see daylight is recreation of traditional Finnish firewood basket. The aim of the design of new splint basket is to be able to join traditional craftsmanship used by Finnish makers of splint baskets.
Every splint basket is made by hand by representatives of vanishing craftsmanship. There is only few masters in Finland remaining who still have the knowhow of making Pärekori = Splint basket.
Traditional splint basket is very familiar for every Finn and has been used for picking mushrooms and berries or carrying firewood. Handles of splint basket are also handmade from linen in Finland and represent famous Artek style of making cheers.
Koskinen’s clients around the world are companies like Artek, Arabia, Danese, Design House Stockholm, Cassina IXC, Finlandia Vodka, Issey Miyake Inc., Maruni Wood Industry Inc, Montina, Muji, Oluce, Panasonic, Seiko Instruments, Swarovski, Venini and many others.
In spite of his international career Koskinen has not forgotten his roots in the Finnish countryside. He is well familiar with farm work, house building and other rural activities. More information: www.harrikoskinen.com
Product selection and sales
The guiding principles on product selection are flavour, healthiness, rarity, seasonality and ethical production methods. All suppliers for Eat&Joy Farmers Market are small businesses of the highest quality, meeting both EU and Finnish hygiene and food production regulations and laws. All special criteria for airports are also fulfilled (Helsinki Airport, Eat&Joy Farmers Market stores).
Initially the products were used for promotions during events targeted at the international media – then in 2007-09 more general product launches were organised in Berlin, Paris, Washington, Zurich, St Petersburg and Tallinn.
Combine the unique qualities of Finnish food with the country’s well-established tradition of design excellence and you have the potential for a world-beating product range: Eat&Joy Farmers Market. Given the experience of Uni One Oy, and its record of innovation, the company and its partners are well positioned to make the Best of Finland a national and international success.