Apetit Plc is a Finnish producer of fresh and frozen vegetable-based products from locally sourced raw materials such as potatoes, leeks, carrots, peas, swede, parsnips, celery, beetroot and spinach.

Its aim is to become the leading brand in frozen vegetable products, frozen ready meals and ready-to-use fresh vegetables.

“Apetit has worked closely with contract growers in the Satakunta region in southwestern Finland for more than 60 years. Essentially, good food is made from good ingredients, so the quality of the vegetables we use is the most important factor affecting our product quality,” says Petri Pyysalo, technical manager. “As a company, we have become extremely familiar with the local suppliers and growers and sign agreements with around 140 contract growers every year. We also select quality suppliers outside the Satakunta region, from European and international markets, because Finland is situated too northern for farming e.g. corn and peppers. We purchase vegetables from Finnish, European and international suppliers depending on the season.”

Great taste
“Finland is the northernmost agricultural country in the world, and this is something that you can taste in our vegetables,” adds Pyysalo. “Arctic food production is characterized by short summers and low temperatures, combined with long summer days and short nights. This unique combination lends a specific taste and texture to the vegetables, and that’s why Apetit has been exporting tasty ‘mid-summer night’ peas to Italy since 1970. We try to harvest when the vegetables are at their best in order to keep that wonderful taste. We know how to freeze vegetables such as peas, potatoes and spinach rapidly—we wash them gently, blanch them and freeze them evenly to prevent the formation of large ice crystals that alter the texture of the vegetables.

“Apetit aims to lead the way in developing a vegetable-based food chain, which is why we are investing more than ever in quality. We strongly favor suppliers who have a valid quality or product safety management tool in place, and in order to become the leading brand, we are increasing our efforts in product development and investing in new food solutions, service development and technical innovations.

“We are currently processing approximately 20,000 tons of frozen vegetables per year. During this process, we also sort out foreign materials, making sure we guarantee a top-quality product as well as food safety along the way. We want to make sure that no foreign materials enter the further production line after coming from the storing and mixing process. That’s why we have bought TOMRA’s free fall pulsed LED camera sorters for the packaging lines – as many companies do.”

Pulsed LED sorter vs laser sorter
TOMRA’s Blizzard is a very cost-effective solution. For many years, we considered buying new laser sorters, which are often thought to be the best machines for sorting individually-quick frozen (IQF) vegetables, but after seeing TOMRA’s pulsed LED technology in action, we were convinced that this technology was equally as good, if not better,” adds Pyysalo.

“Pulsed LED recognizes the subtlest color and structural differences as well as foreign materials just before packing, and the benefits are abundant—it is calibration-free, stable and has a long life span. Peas for examples, the Blizzard is able to take out pods and stalks based on shape sorting.”

Impeccable food safety record
“We have already installed four of TOMRA’s Blizzard machines, and not only has our quality increased, but also our food safety record is impeccable, since we are confident that all foreign material is being removed. It’s an all-in-one package. We save money, the quality has improved and food safety is guaranteed,” he adds. “We are also making raw materials for baby food, and those people have already been interested and satisfied by the fact that we have installed Blizzard sorters in our company. It gives them confidence.”

“During the installation, our operators received special training courses from the TOMRA team in order to learn how to operate the sorting machine, but once you know how to operate it, it’s very easy to work with. On top of that, it’s easy to clean.”

“After the installation, TOMRA is continuing to support us. Its Finnish agent is brilliant and has delivered a very good job in helping us. He knows his business by heart. We have been so impressed and satisfied with TOMRA’s Blizzard, that we are installing one in each of our six packaging lines.”

TOMRA Sorting Food Americas is based in West Sacramento, Calif.