A Finnish broad bean product, developed jointly by an organic farm – Gobbas Gård – and an organic restaurant – Härmän Rati (in Järvenpää) – has been named winner of the first European Organic Food Innovation Award. 

The final of the competition for organic food companies was held in early October at the Organic Food Day in Helsinki.

The winning product, which will have particular appeal to professional kitchens, is being positioned as a Finnish organic alternative to soya, which many top restaurants do not want to use. It can also replace tofu or cream in cooking, and is suitable for many uses such as for sauces, ice cream, mayonnaise or yoghurt. The winning product innovation is so new that it is still unnamed.

The jury praised Gobbas Gård’s and Härmän Rati’s broad bean product for its versatility, good taste and precise targeting to professional kitchens. The winning product was also found to be a truly novel innovation.

Ilkka Alarotu from S Group summarised the jury’s view by saying that there are still many possibilities for developing this product.

Ten organic food companies took part in the European Organic Food Innovation Award final, presenting their innovations in a short pitching speech in English. According to the jury, the level of competition was fierce, the ideas diverse and all the innovations presented were potential successes. The organic food day crowd of around 200 voted for their own favourite, a vegan white Brie style cheese made from organic cashew nuts by Jokilaakson Juusto Oy.

Organic producer Aira Sevón from Gobbas Gård and chef Juha Ollila from Härmän Rati, who introduced the bean product in the final of the innovation competition, each emphasised the importance of cooperation. A wide range of expertise has been needed to develop the new broad bean product, they said.

The story of the as yet unnamed product began when Gobbas Gård started thinking about processing domestic organic broad beans into an easy-to-use substitute for imported soybeans in professional kitchens. With Härmän Rati’s expertise the right flavour and many applications were found.

The organic broad bean product withstands high temperatures and oil well and does not split. In addition to Härmän Rati, the product is already being used by, for example, the Restaurant Jord and Maannos restaurants in Helsinki. It is also suitable for the manufacturing of consumer products.

The European Organic Food Innovation Award competition, held for the first time this year, aims to encourage food companies to launch innovative organic products or services. The winner of the competition received EUR 4,500 and Pinta Marketing Agency’s design services worth EUR 5,000.

In addition to Ilkka Alarotu, who acted as chairman, the competition jury included the export director Thimjos Ninios from MTK, Vice President of Grocery Trade Harri Hovi from K Group and innovation entrepreneur Charlotte Aschim from Norwegian TotalCtrl.

The European Organic Food Innovation Award competition was organised by Pro Luomu ry and the Founder Institute in cooperation with the Pinta Marketing Agency, S Group and K Group.

Photo: Winners of the European Organic Food Innovation Award: Juha Ollila from Härmän Rati and Aira Sevón from Gobbas Gård. Next to Esa Luomunperä from Jokilaakson Juusto, the audience favorite