Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Scope for even further collaboration in berry and mushroom picking industry in Finland

Along with differentiation and upgraded products, collaboration between different actors is a prerequisite for a success of Finnish berry and mushroom products on international markets. This becomes apparent in interviews conducted by Pellervo Economic Research among berry and mushroom wholesalers and processing companies as a part of MULTIEFFORT project financed by Karelia ENPI CBC. The interviewees estimated that there is a lot of growth and developmental potential on Finnish natural products sector. Considering raw material resources in Finland even a substantial growth would be possible. Collaboration between different actors is well established in certain steps of the value chain, but should be further developed in others.

Collaboration between pickers, wholesalers and processing companies seems to be well organized. The Arctic Flavours Association has been founded already in 1993, and works actively for gathering, processing and use of natural products. Picking is put into action mainly by wholesalers whereas berry processing companies do not usually buy berries directly from pickers. They prefer wholesalers, who freeze berries before delivering them to buyers. Wholesalers were preferred especially by companies producing special products.

Photo: Paula Horne

The interviewees described berry and mushroom sector as a small and export driven one. The main export markets of berries and berry products were Central Europe and Asia. As to mushrooms, Italy is the main market. The importance of Asia has also grown substantially. Potential markets for natural products were assessed remarkable in Russia, and the chances of Finnish natural products were regarded as good there. In order to gain success on the Russian market products need to be premium ones and clearly differentiated from competitors’ products.

Export markets present great potential for expansion of the trade. However, common problems faced by companies were related to investment and maintenance costs vital to the business. Distant location and company’s small size were also recognized as problems of many firms. These facts made it difficult to recruit competent employees, and they also restricted possibilities to expand operations. Further collaboration between small companies might alleviate some of these size-related problems.

Another concern faced both in berry and mushroom companies is the drastic drop of domestic pickers in recent years. This problem was regarded even more serious in mushroom companies, because exact identification of mushrooms is crucial in picking. This makes it challenging to use foreign pickers, because the mushroom species are manifold in Finland. On the other hand, cross-border cooperation with Russian Karelia might provide a solution for this problem, because there is a traditionally strong culture of mushroom picking in Russia, and the mushroom species there are mainly similar to the Finnish ones.

One aspect that is not covered by the study report is the need for collaboration with the local land owners. Widely published conflicts in berry picking could be partly resolved by better integration of the land owners into the value chain. Hopefully the industry will be able to expand, not only to bring business opportunities to the different steps of the value chain, but also to bring tasty and healthy products to consumers’ tables.  

Paula Horne & Anna-Kaisa Rämö, Pellervo Economic Research PTT

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

AQUAREL Project Partners learning how to produce fish oil!

Aquatic Resources for Green Energy Realization “AQUAREL” project (KA397) is at the finishing line. The project has developed an AQUAREL concept for the Republic of Karelia for utilizing fish waste and other aquatic biomaterial in green energy production or other economically profitable purposes.

The AQUAREL concept provides a sustainable end to end solution for utilizing fish processing side streams for fish oil production. 

• Fish oil can be utilized as such or by further processing it to bio-diesel, fish meal or animal fodder.
• The oil, water and solid phases are separated from the heated fish waste based on gravity. 

The end to end solution was piloted in the Republic of Karelia. The process piloted was a batch process, designed to manage 250 kg of side stream, mainly fish viscera, per batch. The fish side streams are first heated in a heating unit. The oil phase on top of the heating unit is removed after which the rest of the mass is pumped to the fish oil separation unit. In separation unit the fish waste is separated into two (2) phases by gravity; fish oil and solids including the water and oil.

The AQUAREL project partners from Oy Culmentor Ltd, Ecofoster Group Oy, Vilia Ltd and Karelian Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Science visited the pilot facility in Borovoi, Karelia to learn the fish oil production process in practice.

Jaakko Seppälä, Ecofoster Group, taking fish oil
samples from the heating unit.


Based on the pilot experience Jukka Hellgren from Oy Culmentor Ltd. concluded that even if the fish oil production process is not complicated, the operative management of small-scale production unit requires dedicated resources and separate facilities especially to meet hygiene requirements. 

More information about the project: www.culmentor.com/aquarel

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

KA366_New technology and development of culture tourism in Kizhi museum

The history of computerization of the KIZHI museum began in 1991 when the first computer was bought. Since then adaptation of new technologies and its application to the museum work were started. The Kizhi museum has always kept up with the times and taken the lead both among Karelian and Russian museums. In 1998 the department of information and computer technologies was established in our museum. Nowadays the corporate computer network unites four museum’s buildings in Petrozavodsk and four buildings on the Kizhi Island. More than 100 computers are connected to the museum’s network. New technologies are used almost in all areas of the museum’s activity. 

The first version of the museum’s web-site was published in 1998. Now it is available in Russian and English languages and consists of several sections, for example, information about visiting on Kizhi Island, the museum exhibitions, excursions, events and programs in Petrozavodsk, museum collections (more than 20 catalogues), archaeological heritage, and videos of traditional crafts. The section of architectural monuments includes the internet-project “In front of the world” (information about the restoration of the Transfiguration church) which was begun in 2004. The web-camera directed to the Kizhi ensemble was set up in 2005 that allows visitors of the web-site to see the process of the restoration. The web-site includes also sections of E-library, E-shop (created in 2006), E-map of Kizhi and Zaonezhie. The section “Kizhi virtual tours” consists of games, virtual trips, interactive video guide and excursions, multimedia collection of unique icons. Furthermore, the Kizhi museum was the first one in Karelia which tested technologies of electronic sales. In 2004 the booking and sales system “TicketNet” (the developer is “InfoTech”. St. Petersburg) was launched in the museum. The system became a part of the electronic marketing complex. Today the museum web-site takes the third place in the rating of “Museums of Russia” portal which includes all Russian museums and galleries.

In June 2014 the application of interactive mobileguide of Petrozavodsk “Contemporary Old City” was launched in the section of museum’s web-site. Everyone who has an Android gadget can download and use it. The application was developed in cooperation with the Karelia University of Applied Sciences (North Karelia, Finland) within the frame of the project “Contemporary Old City: enhancing cultural tourism across the border” (Karelia ENPI CBC). 

Daria Kocherina
Department of tourist and excursion services
Kizhi State Open-air museum, Petrozavodsk

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

European Cooperation Day and Petrozavodsk Project Fair 2014

The Karelia ENPI CBC programme organized European Cooperation Day events in three cities this year. The events in Kajaani and Joensuu took place on September 13th, and the event in Oulu was held on Sept. 20th. In addition to this, we organized a project fair in Petrozavodsk on Sept. 26th. We also took part in the Student Organisation Fair at the University of Oulu on Sept. 10th.

At the Student Organisation Fair at the University of Oulu, the students could get information on the programme, the projects, and visit the virtual Kizhi Island in 3D. Our stand was a passport stand where the students could receive a stamp on their Vulcanalia passport after performing a task. On our stand the students had to use their imagination and guess what the abbreviation ENPI CBC stands for. I listed some of the suggestions below:

Europe National Practice Inventio - Central Bank Centrum
European New People International – Continental Business Club
Economic National Practis Inbetween – Collaboration Between Contrys
European Nature Promote Increasing – Cross-border Cooperation
European National Partnership Industry – Carelian-Bothnian Cooperation
European National Prosessing Institution – Country Before Cash

The European Cooperation Day in Kajaani was an outdoor event. It was held at the market square Raatihuoneentori. The projects organized public exercise sessions, a small obstacle course for children, and health examinations, such as blood pressure and blood sugar measurement. After filling in a quiz, people could taste season’s berries, fruits and vegetables. In addition to this, free coffee, tea and buns were served. Henna-Mari and Jarkko attended the event while I was in Joensuu.

In Joensuu, the event took place at the Shopping Centre Iso Myy. The public could try forest machine simulators and experience for themselves how the slope of the wheel chair ramp affects its use. Approximately 400 people were reached both in Kajaani and Joensuu.

Oulu’s main event was organized at the Cultural Centre Valve where the projects organized competitions and activities for children and collected ideas on how to improve the school system in order to prevent social exclusion of children and youth. The ecocity game developed by one of the projects was played as well. The local improvisational theatre group Uniikki Unikorni also told and acted out improvised stories on cooperation for children at Valvenäyttämö stage. 

The Project Fair in Petrozavodsk was held at the 
National Theatre of Karelia. About 150 people visited the event in Oulu and the fair in Petrozavodsk. The 32 participating projects presented their work and results in a PowerPoint presentation. Some projects had also prepared activities, such as competitions, new musical instruments, and a smart screen. In addition to these, one project organized two dance performances at the fair.

The people we encountered in the events seemed openly interested in the programme. We were prepared to receive harsh critic on the programme since the main Finnish tabloid Ilta-Sanomat had written about the ENPI programmes in a negative and misleading way only two days before the events in Kajaani and Joensuu. Nevertheless, only very few people mentioned the tabloid article, and those who did, regarded it as propaganda. It was nice to notice that people are critical about tabloid articles and do not take them seriously.

All in all, the events were successful and organizing them taught me a lot. Public events are a good way to promote the programme and its projects. Some improvements can be made next year. The most important issue is to market the events intensely. Though, even efficient marketing cannot replace activities that attract people to participate in the events.

Henna Mansikka
Communications Assistant/Karelia ENPI CBC