Working together with a dream team makes it possible
Changing the world requires everyday actions from all of us. It might seem like a gigantic task, but when you break it into small steps, you’ll be surprised how much one person or a group can do to change the world. We want to believe that we are making our small part to make it a better place for future generations. When I say we, I mean our very first team at Apetit, then Avena Nordic Grain.
My background lies in food science and technology. I always had the ambition to be at the forefront of top world-class technology to provide sustainable food to the world and make an impact on the world. The change does not happen overnight, but I can say that I was fighting for it with my team at Avena Nordic Grain.
An opportunity too good to miss
Now let me tell you our story. Apetit produces oil from rapeseed In Finland, where we are the main producer of oil. After pressing the seeds, what’s left is oil and a pressed cake. This cake is very nutritious and used worldwide to feed cattle and poultry. However, it’s unsuitable for humans.
As the cake is so nutritious, we were naturally tempted to make it suitable for humans — it was the right time to shorten that food chain. We put our heads together and created an innovative process, already patented, that removes all those antinutrients without losing all the nutrition goodies: protein, fibre, and oils. We call it BlackGrain from Yellow Fields™.
Since BlackGrain doesn’t have a strong taste or smell, it can be easily added to different food applications to improve their nutritional value. A good example is bread: by adding 7% of BlackGrain to the bread dough, one can obtain bread that is high in fibre and a good source of protein, without resourcing other cereal than wheat. It’s amazing!
Joining forces to overcome the challenges
Due to its novelty, BlackGrain has brought along many challenges. At the same time, it proved to be worth every single effort despite the challenges. We came up with a saying of our own: If it would be easy to work with this product, everyone could have done it. To sum it up, this work wouldn’t have been possible without the right people in our team.
Our core team consisted of four people, all motivated by development and challenges. Our R&D Manager at the time, Kaisu Riihinen, was an inspirational fighter with an amazing career in food chemistry and food regulation. Jenny Tallberg, Business Development Manager, is our marketing guru who always looks at the positive side of every situation. Development and difficult goals are her best motivators. Pirjo Talka, our former Business manager, with an amazing career in business. And then there was me, Leticia Valenzuela, Product Development Manager at the time. In addition, we had a great team supporting our activities, people that made our bravest ideas become a reality.
Despite our team may have seemed small in comparison to bigger companies, we’ve always had a very strong network with research institutes, universities, large companies, and start-ups. As we navigate in different ecosystems in Finland and Europe, we are always looking forward to growing our network.