Welcome to our exclusive Q&A Interview series in the run-up to Eco Life Scandinavia and the Nordic Organic Food Fair, which return on 17-18 November 2021. We’ll be speaking to some of the biggest names in the natural health, beauty, sustainable living and the organic food and drink world. You’ll find out how they adapt to the current climate, their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities ahead. Plus, what they are doing to support their teams and local communities.
We were delighted to speak with Gintare Lauce, Co-Owner & Marketing Manager of Urbanfood
Gintare is Co-Owner of Urbanfood, producers of functional raw products, including berries, vegetables, herbs and seeds, all grown grown and produced in Lithuania.
How did you get into organic?
All of our products are made only from vegetables, fruits, herbs and berries grown in Lithuania, in our home country. Lithuania has long traditions of an organic lifestyle. There are plenty of fresh, evergreen pine forests, as well as placid and clear lakes. Therefore, Lithuanian products are recognized and appreciated around the world. Lithuania is in the very centre of Europe, which is easy and convenient to reach by plane from anywhere in Europe. This is the main reason why we started to produce organic products.
Also it’s very important for our clients because most of them prefer healthy, vegan, vegetarian or raw food diet. So the products do not contain any preservatives, colour additives, sweeteners, sugar, wheat or other chemicals.
Can you tell us a little about the history of your company?
Our company established 1997 year and 2015 we started to create functional food with Urbanfood trademark.
It’s a family-owned company, fostering healthy lifestyle traditions. Our functional food products are a variety of fruits, berries, vegetables, herbs and seeds powder. It is a blend of European “”super-food”” and “”fast-food””. There are innovative products of the highest quality and enhanced functionality, developed in collaboration with scientists.
Our mission is to produce the highest quality, natural superfood to help people enrich their daily diet with additional vitamins, flavours, aromas and colours. Urbanfood products can help to enrich the diet with plant-based vitamins and minerals for busy people and the ones who are always on the run.
Urbanfood products have become national winners of the competition of European Business Ideas and International competition Quality Innovation of the Year 2015. The company applied by ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, ISO 22000 and SA8000 standards. Urban Food powders are organic and have a Keyhole label.
The Keyhole is a voluntary Nordic label for food. Compared to other foods of the same type, products with the Keyhole comply with one or more of these requirements: more dietary fibre; less saturated fat; less salt; less sugar. Food with the Keyhole is for all healthy people – adults, teenagers, and children. The Keyhole is for you who want a healthier diet.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities facing the organic sector?
We see that more and more people are looking natural and organic products. Also, an increase in global organic food demand caused competition dynamics in the international market. Organic products are a result of using a diversified number of smart and innovative organic food production technologies. Thus, constant producing of innovative decisions and innovation implementation in the organic food production process for supporting sustainable farming are integral parts of organic sector development.
Among the dominating tendencies in the market, there are the digitalization of production and trade; the spreading of alternative agricultural methods; job and educational
method modernization; agribusiness functional diversification; the ecologisation of production and international trade; the fast speed of its growth; and the concentration of organic food producers. The specific tendency is the popularization of plant product demand; the extension of product ranges of gluten-free, hypoallergenic, protein and vegan goods, which are assumed to be the basis of vegan eating habits; and the appearance of new segments in the market of goods (eco-friendly, free-of and non-diary) and services (U-pick and argotourism).
We think that these tendencies will continue to grow and because of global pandemic situation this process will be faster.
And what do you think are the biggest challenges?
For our side, all of our products were tested in both drying and grinding stages to check out and compare left vitamins, colour, texture and solubility. The choices during product development and a good quality of it came by doing tests and though own experience. The products were presented in fairs, exhibitions, and sensory tested. According to the results, the best product was selected. Moreover, different raw materials and suppliers were tested and selected. Time of the year, soil and also drying temperature had an influence on the quality of the raw materials.
But we would appreciate more support from science, closer collaboration with us, we could, for instance, introduce bacteria in our products, but all the questions of how to keep it, what do you need for it and so on, we do not have the answers, us alone. At this moment collaboration with researchers is really tough, it barely happens. For example, now we are working with organic raspberry cider vinegar, we always ask sciences for some advice on this new technology, but it is like talking to the wall, either they do not work with it, or they do not want to share the knowledge. We think it is because researchers get evaluated only by the number of articles they publish; in Lithuania, they do not get any points to form a collaboration with business. I think that should change and changes should come from top-down, from the government.
What do you think can be done to educate consumers about the importance of moving to organic?
The aim of the organic food – to change people’s eating habits, to bring the key message that organic and healthy diet is significant for the health.
I will give an example. If you need to make a sweet snack but you want to make it healthy. It is the innovation to make it attractive but healthy and organic too.
What role should small and medium-sized businesses play in developing organic?
The main role. The biggest businesses think about how to get more money. They don’t think about people health. We are working with farmers and we see how much fertiliser is used by large farmers. Only a small and medium-sized farmers are looking for new ways to grown products naturally and organically.
What do you think the impact of the COVID pandemic will be on the future of organic consumption?
We think that this COVID situation shows us that the most important thing is our health. People will think more about their immune system, what to eat and what to do if we want to be healthy. They will look natural, organic products more often.
How do you see the evolution of your business channel (Horeca, retail, online, B2C etc) after COVID?
Of course, online channel will continue to grow and all businesses must be in this channel somehow. We think that this virus will be with us all the time so we need to learn how to live with it. Businesses will think how to show their customers about their safety measures and how they work with COVID. Maybe more often we will see small groups of people rather than a large gathering of people. More and more meetings will be online so businesses must learn how to introduce themselves in this platform. Now is the time for change and we need to learn to adapt very quickly.
Do you have any plans or news that you can tell us about?
Zero-waste – our new challenge for this year.
Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?
We are happy that with our products people can avoid seasonality – they are European origin products all year round!
Processing technology strives to preserve almost all vitamins, minerals and nutrients of fresh incoming products. Our powders are better absorbed by the human nutrition systems, and are directly supplied for cells’ vitality. It’s a 100% of nature and without any additional additives.
The finished product you get contains 100% dried organic product and nothing else. This innovative, short process significantly prolongs the shelf life of the product, reduces waste and let people use naturally, healthy products more often.
Just try it!
Nordic Organic Food Fair