“Our salad has time to grow slowly and is therefore crispy and of excellent quality”

Tholen – In the southwestern part of Finland, about 160 km from Helsinki, lies Turku, the fourth largest city in the country with about 175,000 inhabitants. Several greenhouse nurseries are housed in the immediate vicinity of the city, including DeliVerde, which specializes in lettuce and herbs. “We are not the biggest, nor do we strive to be. We want to be the best,” says sales manager Liisa Lindroth confidently.

Liisa Lindroth is sales manager

Finland is largely self-sufficient in lettuce and herbs. “It is not at all easy to grow lettuce and herbs in our climate. There is a lot involved, but Finns are specialists because of their many years of experience. Our greenhouse area is, for example, larger than the Danes’, Swedes’ and Norwegians’ combined. And the Finnish consumer is very fond of locally grown food. If the supermarkets run a campaign for Danish salad or Polish tomatoes, success is in no way guaranteed. Local growers find in the domestic market, although not very large with a population of almost 5.5 million people, a very receptive market. This partly explains the low exports, although according to Liisa the Finnish products are certainly interesting for foreign customers. “And in the opposite direction, we as a company never import herbs. It would harm our company. The Finns would not understand that we sell imported products under our brand. If we have a slightly lower harvest, then so be it. Our customers know it. horticulture, even though we check many conditions in the greenhouse, it is not an activity where everything always goes perfectly as planned, ”says Liisa.

Herb cultivation

From roses to lettuce and herbs
Liisa’s husband Hannu and started as a rose grower. “My parents owned a small vegetable growing business. As a child, I knew I would not do anything in that industry, nor would I marry a man who was a gardener. Too hard work, too weather dependent. It became different. At least I myself first worked as an IT specialist in large computer companies for 20 years. I met my husband in primary school. His parents owned a car body company. The first of its kind in Finland, of course. But Hannu worked at a large rose nursery, “Before he started his own business. In my spare time, I have always helped my husband with sales and administration and after my career in the computer world, I started working full time as a sales manager in the cultivation business.”

Deliverde grows an extensive variety of herbs

The roses have made room for lettuce and herbs in the greenhouse on an area of ​​2 hectares and seasonal vegetables grown outdoors on an area of ​​3 hectares. “We started small and still are. Hannu was a good rose grower, but he was disappointed that he did not have or did not find the money to invest in a large nursery for himself. Fortunately, for some Finnish rose growers are finally stopped due to the fierce competition from, among others, the Dutch product. We first switched to lettuce and in the late 1990s also to herbs. Hannu and my son Eero, who is now CEO, are the cultivation specialists. is myself and my daughter-in-law in charge of the sale. ”

Arugula packed in Ziplock packaging

Supplier of star restaurants
“Many lettuce growers in Finland grow small varieties of lettuce of 100 grams, a very popular product in our country. But we were small, so we had to do things differently, find our own identity to conquer a place in the market. So we started growing big lettuce heads. Our salad has time to grow slowly and is therefore crispy, of excellent quality, has a good shelf life and is very tasty. Our herbs are also usually larger than those of our fellow breeders. The quality attracted attention from the better hospitality industry, and today we are the main supplier of several star restaurants in Finland. ”

Different stages of herb cultivation

Eye for the latest trends
According to Liisa, the turnover to supply salad, herbs and other vegetables to the Finnish top chefs is not large, but it gives the company prestige and also fresh ideas. “As I said, we do not want the largest quantities, but we focus on quality and we want to keep up and even be at the forefront of the latest trends. We can do this by working with top chefs. They have a good overview of the trends and also help to determine them. The majority of our production, on the other hand, is intended for the retail trade and the restaurant industry as a whole. We deliver directly, especially in Turku and the surrounding area, but also through wholesalers. Furthermore, we supply to two large dealers in Finland, namely Supply to the three large dealers in Finland, namely S-Group, K-Group, which puts a certain price pressure on the Finnish growers. Our company is not big, but certainly profitable. We have good relationships with our customers, who also value our product very much. It is now, of course, more difficult with the cost increase because the process of passing on costs in the chain is very slow in the food sector. People also have less money to spend on inflation. “

In summer also outdoor cultivation of lettuce

The Finns choose the local product
The advantage for companies like DeliVerde is the Finnish preference for local products. “And locally, of course, it sometimes also means product from 1,000 km away. Finland is a large country. How to transport our salad and herbs to Lapland. What we harvest in the afternoon, they have on the shelf furthest north the next morning. “

The preference for local cultivation in Finland is partly motivated by social motives and environmental issues. “Importing lettuce from Spain doesn’t work here,” Liisa explains. “People watch the pictures on TV about the conditions in which African seasonal workers work and live there. And what happens to all that plastic from the greenhouses? These aspects influence the Finns’ purchase decision, who know that dealers here do not cooperate with companies that do not respect social and environmental legislation. As a breeder, you must be able to document that you pay your employees at least the minimum wage and that you respect the law with regard to working hours, sick days and holiday schemes. We do it all – and even more – and people know it. Because we have a good reputation in that area, we have no problem finding labor so far. We have about 50 employees with permanent contracts, as well as seasonal workers. Some of our employees have been Ukrainians for several years now. We told them they could take their families with them. For example, we have received about twenty women and children since the beginning of the war. “

In addition to herbs also a wide variety of lettuce, such as Salanova

Issalat is the most popular
DeliVerde grows a rich assortment of lettuce, including lettuce, curly lettuce, Salanonva, Lollo Rosso, oak lettuce and romaine lettuce. Issalat is the most popular in Finland, for a long time in fact. But the breeds have changed somewhat over time. We also prepare salad mixes – not only for retail, but also for restaurants – and ice cream salad is undoubtedly the most important ingredient in these ready-to-eat products. It keeps the mixture fresh and crispy. “The Turku company sells most herbs in pots, but also supplies ready-made products to the catering industry.” We have coriander, mint, dill, parsley, thyme, rosemary, basil. Finns like dill for their fish dishes “Herbs are doing particularly well in the many spring holidays. But sales used to run more smoothly. Today we see many competitors and the market is becoming saturated.”

Deliverde heats the greenhouses with waste from oats and from the furniture industry

Sawdust for heating
In the summer, on days when it gets too hot for the salad, the greenhouses are cooled. “In addition, in the summer we also work with varieties for long days. We have to adapt to the climatic conditions. We will soon return to GreenTech in the Netherlands to keep up to date with the latest developments in breeding, says Liisa. And in winter, when the snow piles up on the roof, cultivation continues. The snow does not provide extra ground clearance. “The snow is melting simply because of the heating in the greenhouse. We generate heat in our own heating system, which runs on renewable energy, namely sawdust from the furniture industry. We work very environmentally consciously. All the water we use in the greenhouses is 100% recycled and the plants grow with natural light as much as possible. The peat and vegetable waste from the greenhouses are composted and then processed into the soil for outdoor cultivation. The Finnish consumer considers the environmental component to be very important. And we are happy to meet him in that, “Liisa concludes.

For more information:
Liisa Lindroth
+358 400 928 449

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