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News 29.03.2019

Five for Friday: Plant-based innovations

Green walls, hydroponic plants, herbs, bottles and cholesterol-lowering foodstuffs – it’s got to be plants from Finland.

Plant an innovative seed and it will grow into a diverse range of plant-based innovations.

Green walls, hydroponic plants, herbs, bottles and cholesterol-lowering foodstuffs – it has got to be plants from Finland.

In Finland, life exists in harmony with nature. How can it not, with around 75 per cent of the land mass covered in forest? From this has grown an innovative approach to utilising plants in a number of industries.


If stale air at the office has you climbing up the walls, this company has the solution – one that technically could be climbed as well.

Naava’s intelligent green walls promote wellbeing, purify the air and can be used as space dividers. Earlier this year, the company teamed up with Office Blueprint to bring a breath of fresh air to London.

“The London area suffers from bad air quality and companies are looking for solutions to create healthier spaces for their employees and clients to benefit from,” Naava’s Kati Suomi said at the time. “Naava is happy to help companies achieve that with the help of Office Blueprint, who has great clients which span a wide range of sectors, including finance, consulting, IT, hospitality, and education.”


A handful of years ago, designer Janne Loiske was like many of us: a fan of cooking dreaming about growing fresh herbs in his home, especially during the barren chill of the Nordic winter. Whilst indoor gardens could be found abroad, they lacked a distinct Finnish touch. In short: they needed to be functional yet pleasing to the eye.

His indoor hydroponic gardening solution now has customers across Europe and Asia. The company offers two different smart garden platforms, accessories such as growth-boosting light blocks and the seeds of more than 40 different plants.

“Plantui is a young company, but our goal is growth, naturally,” the founding partner of Plantui quipped in 2014. Indeed.

Helsinki Wildfoods

Even the most mundane of weeds can be used for delicious and healthy treats, and Helsinki Wildfoods wants the whole world to jump on the bandwagon with its blend of urban and natural flavours.

“There’s so much free superfood everywhere, and people just don’t know it,” said company co-founder Pauliina Toivanen. “So many plants are generally just considered weed, when in reality they make for tasty spices, sauces and all sorts of food.”

The company has embarked on bringing flavours from the Nordic forest to kitchens around the world under the METTÄ label.
“The METTÄ spice family combines the unique and rich flavours of the Nordic forest with a new, exciting twist,” the company wrote.


Of course, a list of innovations would not be complete without the input of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. A couple of years ago, a VTT research team developed a method for the production of furan dicarboxylic acid (FDCA) from plant sugars.

“This in turn can be used to produce items such as drinking bottles, paints and industrial resins,” we wrote at the time. The method provides another route for the packaging and beverage industries to expand the use of renewable materials. Bottoms up!


There’s no way around it: cholesterol is a killer. This company is tackling cholesterol problems with its range of Benecol solutions based on plant stanols, compounds that are found naturally in cereals, fruits and vegetables and are proven to lower cholesterol.

In 2015, the company teamed up with Lotte Foods in South Korea to introduce yogurt drinks to the market. Later that year, the company entered the Chinese market with its powdered drink.

“Cholesterol levels are rising in China, so there is a need for cholesterol-lowering products,” said Olavi Erkinjuntti, sales director of Raisio’s Benecol business.