Start Me Up Business Idea Competition Prize to Narskuttelu Oy's xylitol strawberry jam and powder Narskuttelu Oy from Kitee, Finland has won the Kitee Prize in StartMeUp business idea competition, organized by Business Joensuu, Finland. "Increasing the processing rate and value of local berries is one of the main goals of this business idea," says entrepreneurs Pekka and Marianne Hoppu.
Narskuttelu Oy participated in the business idea competition with two different ideas. Both made the top 18 that included all the ideas that arrived in the business idea competition. Of these, xylitol strawberry jam and powder were rewarded. "The fact that both business ideas of Narskuttelu Oy are placed in the top 18 in a tough competition is a clear indication of entrepreneurs' expertise and willingness to develop," says Pekka Hirvonen, Mayor of Kitee town.
The basic idea behind the business idea is to launch a Finnish xylitol strawberry jam made of strawberries from Northern Karelia. The resulting jam can be dried into powder and used as a flavouring agent in, e.g. Narskuttelu’s own xylitol lozenges, lollipops, chewing gum and replacing foreign natural strawberry flavors," Pekka Hoppu describes.
The product is made from whole berries, not just berry juice. "This allows not premium class berries to be processed locally and their value-added increases," says Pekka Hoppu. - The shelf life of the dried powder also increases, as birch sugar is slowing down of the enzyme activity in the powder and jams, which preserves the colour and taste of the product. The problem with strawberry powders is often the change in taste after processing, such as drying, as well as the change in the colour of the powder over time.
The global food industry flavouring market is worth approximately 15 billion euro and there are very few flavouring or berry powders made from Finnish raw materials out of this total. In addition, not all different berry powders or flavourings are suitable to produce xylitol sweets, for example.
Narskuttelu Oy operates in Puhoshalli in Kitee town. The hall has been profiled especially as a further processing centre for the natural-products and food sector. A large freeze-drying plant is planned as a business group project into Puhoshalli. "Narskuttelu Oy's purpose is to test and use freeze drying in the manufacture of strawberry powders," says Marianne Hoppu.
The products are intended to be on the market in 2023. The first batches of strawberry powders have already been prepared and compacted into xylitol lozenges. The taste and colour of the finished products have been brilliant. The xylitol toffee, which was the other business idea in the competition, is also expected to be placed on the market during the year.
It is great that Pekka and Marianne from Narskuttelu take into account the local raw materials and the potential of the freeze-drying plant built in the area in their product development processes," says Mayor Pekka Hirvonen.