Supply chain integrity. Healthy animals. Excellent livestock welfare. No hormones and low antibiotics use. Highly regulated cleanliness. Quality products, with an emphasis on flavour. These are the hallmarks of the Finnish meat industry, which is valued by restauranteurs from Hong Kong to Tokyo, and as far away as in New Zealand.
"In Finland we have very high levels of animal health. It's the fresh and clean environment," explains Staffan Snellman, Director of Export at Snellman, one of Finland's best known meat producers. "These things are important," he adds.
In a world where more people are becoming aware of how their food is produced; along with an emphasis on local, small batch production; and ethical treatment of animals, one of the stand-out qualities of the Finnish meat industry is that there has never been large scale commercialized farming.
"We work with independent family farms," explains Snellman, whose family-run company was founded 60 years ago by his father and four uncles in the town of Pietarsaari on Finland's North West coast. "We prefer families, because we know that when a farm is run by family members, they do it in a better way. We know that the result of the quality depends on this, and also on the animal welfare."
The premier restaurants of Hong Kong and Japan are the destination for high quality pork. In fact, Finnish pork is produced to such an exacting standard that it can be used by sushi chefs, and eaten raw by customers. "Natural pork is our biggest export from Finland," says Petri Haaparanta, Vice President of Exports at HKScan Finland Oy, who have recently launched their new Omega Pork product in Hong Kong.
Despite being a small country, Finland's meat industry has a big reputation - and this year Finnish producers have been exploring new market opportunities in South Africa and China. "Being identified as a Finnish company is an advantage," says Petri Haaparanta. "Finland as a country probably has the best reputation you can get."