The New Nordic Food Brand METTÄ Aims to International Markets
Helsinki Wildfoods Oy introduces a new food brand METTÄ, which has been designed for the gourmands of the international market. The METTÄ spice family combines the unique and rich flavors of the Nordic forest with a new, exciting twist when North Atlantic sea salt seals a perfect bond with Lappish porcinis, sour lingonberries fuse with sweet birch sugar and spruce sprouts from the pristine forest join their forces with sea buckthorns from the Baltic coastline.
Helsinki Wildfoods Oy upgrades all its current food products under the new METTÄ brand. METTÄ has been developed to meet the demands of international export markets. METTÄ products will be available in stores in Finland in May, 2019. Wild herb foraging workshops will continue seasonally under Helsinki Wildfoods’ brand name, supporting the new METTÄ food brand.
“METTÄ sends a small but delightful piece of our pure Nordic forest with its flavours and atmosphere, abroad. Our forest is the beginning of everything we do; it is our treasure that offers us abundant goodness, both mentally and physically and even on our plates. I've lived most of my life abroad and when I returned to Finland, I found a whole new world from the forest with all its flavours and edible treasures and experiences. Now, I want to bring these same experience to those living abroad,” says Roosa Heinilä, co-founder of the new METTÄ brand.
A new brand name was also required for patenting purposes, especially with export markets in mind, since there have been many alarming examples of brand theft lately in the news. The new name was to be short and compact, one that strikes and stays in mind right away. In addition to the name change, the whole soul, look and feel of METTÄ brand will increasingly communicate the high quality and culinary experience it offers.
“Mettä is originally a western Finnish dialect word for forest. There is something wonderfully primitive about it, traditional in a sense. The beloved child has many names, and so does our forest. In addition to dialects, mettä is used in many Finnish proverbs about forest,” says Annika Hannus, the other co-founder of the brand.
First, METTÄ is aiming at the Japanese market, where the new arrivals are already expected.
“We have received tremendous help from Food from Finland, which helps even small companies like us to get to know foreign buyers, importers and other people interested in Finnish food. Through the Food from Finland program, we have been able to open doors to Japan and receive confirmation that Japan has a niche for us – customers who are interested in quality products, made of clean and pure ingredients and flavours,” Heinilä says.
The EU-Japan free trade agreement also facilitates trade in many ways and makes Japan more accessible for smaller companies like METTÄ.
“Japan and Finland have had a special relationship for a long time; the Japanese are the most familiar with Finland out of the Nordic countries, they find Moomins and the Finnish forest appealing. A huge Metsä Village has been opened in Japan and the Moominvalley Park will open there in March!” Hannus says.
Responsible Is the New Premium
METTÄ brings pure Nordic forest flavors in entirely natural form, sustainably packed and beautifully presented. In international export markets, the products will be placed in the so-called new premium category. These customers are culinary enthusiasts, who value food quality. However, for Hannus and Heinilä, premium does not only mean the quality of the ingredients used, but the manufacturing and logistics of the product must meet the quality criteria of responsible and environmentally friendly business as well.
“The METTÄ products are packed in fully compostable packaging using compostable labels. While glass jars may represent premium, they weigh a lot, and sending them to the other side of the world puts more pressure on the environment than light weight, densly packed pouches. For us, premium means the best possible ingredients, packaging and logistics from the environmental viewpoint as well ,” Heinilä opens.
Environmentally friendly and responsible choices make the price premium too. The choices have not been easy for small entrepreneurs. It has not been easy to find compostable packaging, which at the same time maintains the quality of the product.
“We need to share these challenges openly with our customers, so they can fully understand why the package is of a certain kind and price. It would be great if a big company started making similar environmentally friendly packaging choices a step ahead of us,” Hannus says.
Nordic Flavors for Gourmands
In the Finnish food industry, high quality raw ingredients from Finnish forest have been sold in bulk abroad and international brands have been left do the commercialising, and the value adding. For example, Finnish porcinis are being exported in huge quantities to Italy and Finnish birch sap is commercialised by a British brand. In the Finnish natural food products industry, METTÄ is one of the first ones that has been branded, from the scratch, to meet the needs of export.
In Hannus’ opinion, restaurants have been able to create a good hype around the culinary dimensions of Finnish food better than food manufacturers, who have concentrated more on the nutritional benefits of Nordic raw materials.
“It’s surprising how little the Finnish food culture has been productised or exported. We should face our consumers boldly and proudly tell them about the tastes of our pristine and pure nature,” Hannus says.
METTÄ products offer unique combinations of flavours and pre-thought uses from dips to sauces, pestos and spices and sweetening blends. Would you like to taste some Porcini Salt, Nettle Salt, Lingonberry Birch Sugar, Nettle Pesto, Forest Spice or Wild Mushroom Sauce?
“Our Nettle Pesto is a little innovation in itself! You only prepare the amount you need per use just by adding a splash of water and oil, the rest stays dry and can be used later without going old. Our products are easy to combine with your own cooking to create exciting and delicious, completely natural, new culinary adventures. Our dry products have long shelf lives, which helps prevent food waste,” says Hannus.
Serial Entrepreneurs Supporting METTÄ’s Growth
Hannus and Heinilä are happy to announce that Johannes Laine and Heikki and Tiina Lehmuskoski, energetic, excited and award-winning entrepreneurs in the field of restaurants and wellbeing, have invested in the company to support METTÄ’s growth and success. Laine and The Lehmuskoskis have founded around ten different companies, from Laine’s raw cake company Green Street and OHMYGOODNESS restaurant to The Lehmuskoskis’ Oma Panimo brewery.
“It was important for us to find partners who understand an entrepreneur's everyday life and who we find fun to work with. Johannes, Heikki and Tiina are a tough trio of fighters who have different areas of expertise and work styles. Helsinki Wildfoods is the first company Roosa and me have been founding, they have already ran ten! They have learned from each entrepreneurial venture how to intelligently grow their business and how to do business more successfully, so there is much we can learn from them,” says Hannus.
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