Back in 2016, sisters Annamari and Marjaana Jukkola came to the realisation that they could make an impact on the sustainability of the food industry and people’s well-being by starting a business and making products of their own.
“My sister and I grew up on a dairy farm in the countryside and saw what that life was like. As I was doing my doctorate in food sciences, I found myself thinking more and more about how things could be done differently. Using a renewable ingredient in the traditional dairy process sounded very tempting to me,” Mö Foods co-founder Annamari Jukkola says.
And so in 2017, Mö Foods Oy was born. Consumers didn’t have to wait for long to get a taste of the company, as the first products were launched in the following year. The “oat revolution” that had started in Finland a couple of years earlier with Pulled Oats was still very much alive and offered a nice boost to Mö Foods’s products as well.
“Our company makes oat-based dairy products. All ingredients come from Finland and the products are made in our own factory in the village of Lohtaja. Our first products were Kaurajogu and Kaurarahku, which are oat-based alternatives for yogurt and quark. We also recently launched the world’s first oat-based Greek-style cheese, which can be used just like feta cheese,” Annamari Jukkola says.
The food industry plays an important role in sustainable development
The food industry is undergoing a big transformation, with foodtech innovators disrupting the scene. Unlike the current food trends that focus more on the sugar and fat content of foods and producing lactose-free alternatives, the idea behind food technology is to dig deeper into where the food comes from and provide technological solutions to the development of food products. Mö Foods’ vision is to make the food business more sustainable through new alternatives, while teaching consumers how to make more sustainable choices when shopping for groceries.
“For us to make it in a highly competitive field as a fairly small company, we need to offer consumers something innovative, new and different. This is how we can make sure that our business has a future in this industry. We work together with some of the bigger names to develop a more sustainable food business as well as guide and encourage people to make more sustainable choices,” Annamari Jukkola says.
For us to make it in a highly competitive field as a fairly small company, we need to offer consumers something innovative, new and different.
Having the right people around helps the business grow
Collaboration and carefully selected stakeholders have played a crucial role in the success of the growing company. It not only takes courage to embark on new business ventures but you also need a reliable expert to partner with. Jani Pelkonen from Nordea’s Startup & Growth unit in Finland helps entrepreneurs find the right financing options for them.
“We work with fast-growing companies on a daily basis and have a great understanding of this stage they are at. They need our support with financing but also look to us for advice on what’s possible and what’s not. We go through the companies’ business plans with a fine-tooth comb and look at the financing options they have,” Jani Pelkonen says.
“What is special about Nordea is that we have the ability to finance early-stage growth companies, which is not something other financial service providers can necessarily do. This enables startups to start growing their businesses and employ staff. We talk to each entrepreneur about how sustainability is integrated in their operations and how they work with sustainability in a systematic way as part of their business development,” Jani Pelkonen says.
According to Annamari Jukkola, it has been essential for their company to have a partner who understands where the business is at and how rapidly it’s growing.
“Sometimes things move at lightning speed and you need to make quick decisions. We appreciate Nordea’s way of solving problems and pulling together as a team. There’s a real drive to make things happen,” Annamari Jukkola explains.
Taking the first step towards international growth
Mö Foods Oy has reached its growth targets and is getting ready to take the Nordic markets by storm just before the company’s 5-year anniversary.
“We are now working with the Nordic coffeehouse chain Espresso House, which has coffee shops in all the Nordic countries as well as in Germany. With them selling our products, we’ll get to test the international waters in a different way than most food brands because usually the way to expand a food business is through retail food stores. But we found a great partner in Espresso House, as they want to evolve their plant-based product offering. Through them, our products will soon be distributed widely,” Annamari Jukkola says with great delight.
Jani Pelkonen sees Mö Foods’ Finnish origin and pure ingredients providing the brand with a competitive edge. These are also reflected in the company’s communications and visual identity.
“The owners of Mö Foods have managed to take brand new and exciting products to the market – including most recently the world’s first plant-based feta cheese! The company is ready to reinvent itself and is constantly looking for new solutions. These will be the keys to continued successful growth,” Jani Pelkonen concludes.