Gold&Green Foods: Pulled Oats – transforming an idea into a tasty product
Pulled oats offer a perfect source of protein and a great alternative to meat. The product was developed by Reetta Kivelä, a food scientist, and Maija Itkonen, a brand specialist and serial entrepreneur. At first, Tekes was not entirely convinced by the idea.
"Tekes awarded us research funding when we had nothing to show them except vague plans. They probably had a hard time believing in us, but we were able to convince them with our know-how and commitment. Our scientific background was definitely an asset," Maija Itkonen says.
Pulled oats is the first product made by Gold&Green Foods. The list of product characteristics is impressive: it keeps well, is easy to prepare, has a mild taste making it suitable for a wide variety of dishes, is ecological, and has a pleasant consistency. The key ingredient of pulled oats is oats, which grow well in the Nordic climate, and which are then sheared and heated to create the final product.
Start-ups need someone to cheer them on
Kari Venäläinen, a Tekes project officer, was a frequent visitor to Gold&Green Foods when the product was still on the drawing board.
"It was great to have Kari there to cheer us on and push us forward," Itkonen comments.
According to Itkonen, this is precisely the kind of help companies need at the starting line. It is extremely demanding to run a start-up, create a technology innovation, bring a product to the market, and design a manufacturing process, all at the same time. She compares the task to steering an ocean liner through a storm.
"Lecturing someone on the right to way to run their business is not very helpful. For me, it was a real lifesaver to have someone from Tekes who trusted us, who counted on us to keep the vessel on the right course, and provided us with much-needed fuel. Tekes had very strict criteria, but once we passed the test they showed full confidence and put us in the captain's seat," Itkonen says appreciatively.
Gold&Green Foods have followed their course as planned. Many people would be highly envious of their achievements. The research project was completed in autumn 2015. At the beginning of 2016, the company employed 5 people and by the year-end the number had gone up to 30. Sales are rocketing, and production capacity will grow tenfold in 2017. In autumn 2016, Paulig Ltd, an international enterprise in the food industry, bought 51 per cent of the company's shares to help the company expand its production capacity and grow internationally.
Chief Enabling Officer
Gold&Green Foods Ltd
Text: Katariina Ahonen
Photo: Gold&Green Foods