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A new contest celebrates innovative organic products

The European Organic Food Innovation Award is a new pitching contest that encourages companies in the food industry to introduce innovative organic products or services to the market. The contest is organised by the Finnish Organic Food Association Pro Luomu. The contest final will be part of the Organic Food Day event, to be held in the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki in October.

The goal of the contest is to inspire companies in the food industry to develop organic products that combine organic quality with other trendy characteristics. The contest encourages companies to introduce to the market organic products that consumers find interesting and that are built on skillful concepts.

In addition to the actual product, contest entries may include a service, technology or process that is linked to the production or distribution of a certified organic product. The language of the contest is English.

The pitching contest is open to companies based in EEA countries whose innovative product has not been commercially available prior to January 2018.

The Finnish Organic Food Association organises the European Organic Food Innovation Award pitching contest in cooperation with the Founder Institute as well as S Group and K Group, the largest Finnish grocery chains, among others.

The Founder Institute supports organic innovations

The Founder Institute is the world’s largest pre-seed startup accelerator. Its centre of excellence in Finland specialises in food as well as food and agricultural technology. For Janne Saarikko, Director of the Finland Chapter, organic production is one of the methods that will help maintain the viability of the Earth. Therefore, supporting new organic innovations comes naturally to the Founder Institute.

– Central values of the startup companies established through the Founder Institute include transforming the world into a better place in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Organic production contributes to doing just that, Saarikko says.

According to Saarikko, the European Organic Food Innovation Award is an excellent opportunity for new organic innovations to prove themselves in both Finland and abroad.

– The visibility that the contest provides and the subsequent contacts may be invaluable in terms of the product’s commercial success.

For retailers, organic products are a permanent consumer trend

The demand for organic products has grown in both Finland and elsewhere in Europe throughout the 2010s. In the Finnish retail sector, the increased consumer interest in choosing organic products is a permanent trend, and the sector wants to respond by offering new, innovative organic products.

According to Ilkka Alarotu, chairman of the Board of the Finnish Organic Food Association and Senior Vice President of S Group’s Retail Business, consumers are drawn to organic food since it is natural and ethical.

– For example, in Finland it is possible to double organic food sales from the current level, as long as companies develop and market products that hit the trends, Alarotu analyses.

According to the K Group, the main consumers of organic food are families with children and households with no children, but currently the fastest growth is seen among single people and young couples.

– The Food Trends 2019 survey conducted by the K Group indicates that up to 55 per cent of consumers’ food choices in Finland are influenced by conscious consumption. Among these conscious consumers, 18 per cent say they will add more organic products to their shopping basket this year, says Harri Hovi, Vice President of Commerce for K Group’s grocery trade.

Contest entries accepted by September 10th

Entries to the European Organic Food Innovation Award contest will be accepted through 10th of September.

The finalists will be selected based on their contest entry videos viewable on YouTube or Vimeo, for example, and the finalists will be announced on 16 September 2019. Each finalist company will present their innovations in a three-minute public pitch to be delivered in the Organic Food Day event on 2 October 2019.

The judging criteria are novelty value, innovation and creativity. The judges will also pay attention to the business opportunities and environmental and health impact of the innovations. Impact on consumer behaviour will also be assessed.

The contest judges include Director of Export Thimjos Ninios, Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners of Finland, and, as representatives from the retail sector, Ilkka Alarotu, Senior Vice President in S Group, and Harri Hovi, K Group’s Vice President, Commerce.

The Organic Food Day is a seminar directed at food industry professionals and experts. The Finnish Organic Food Association has been organising the event since 2014. This year, the seminar will be held in the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki on 2 October. The theme of the seminar is innovations and the future. The programme of the Organic Food Day will be announced later in May.

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