Finnish ‘Gluten-Free’ Beer finds New Markets

 

Mikko Mäkinen stands before a wall of Kukko beer, waiting for the green light to ship to America. Mikko Mäkinen stands before a wall of Kukko beer, waiting for the green light to ship to America.
Finnish gluten-free Kukko (“rooster”) beer is set to be exported to the US after local brewer Laitilan Wirvoitusjuomatehdas signed a contract with Good Life Imports, a company that specialises in bringing European products to the American market.

The idea for the partnership first came to Good Life Imports’ Jason Dyer and Mikko Mäkinen when they worked together at Nokia’s R&D centre in San Diego.

“Jason’s a coeliac and he had run into Kukko beers while travelling to Finland,” Mäkinen recalls. “Whenever someone went to Finland we had to bring Kukko beer back to San Diego for him. There are now some gluten-free beers out there but none of them are as good from a taste perspective as Kukko.”

The duo are in the process of finalising US paperwork that will see the first shipment of beer being sent at the end of the year, and available on shelves in Texas and California in early 2016.

Finding the level

One challenge the duo has faced is that while Kukko beer is considered to be gluten-free by European standards, FDA regulations Stateside have taken a low-risk approach in regards to such labelling.

“In Europe you can call a product gluten-free if it’s below 20 parts per million in terms of gluten content,” Mäkinen explains. “It is pretty much same case in Australia and in many parts of the world. In the US, the FDA took a long time deciding what you can call gluten free and what you cannot.”

Thus Kukko beer will be identified as ‘crafted to reduce gluten’ when it is sold in the States. Distinguishing it from similar products on the market, Kukko is devoid of the chemicals typically used to reduce gluten levels during the brewing process, and is made completely from malted barley.

“Laitilan Wirvoitusjuomatehdas actually didn’t set out to brew a gluten-free beer, they set out to brew a great-tasting beer,” Mäkinen exclaims. “They found this out from a study that was done by the Finnish Coeliac Association together with Alko [the government-run alcohol retail monopoly in Finland], where they tested gluten-free levels of different beers. In that study they found out that the Kukko beers were very low in gluten content.”

The beer was thus awarded the Finnish Coeliac Society’s seal of approval, a European standard which will be retained when it reaches the States.

In good taste

Mäkinen believes they are entering the US market at a perfect time, with awareness of gluten-free products growing rapidly.

“Roughly one per cent of the population has coeliac disease, and around eight per cent of US households buy gluten-free products, because someone in the household or immediate family has coeliac disease,” he explains. “There are reports of up to 30 per cent of consumers in the US right now who are looking for gluten-free products as it is also a little bit of a health trend.”

Nonetheless, Mäkinen is keen to emphasise Kukko’s flavour first.

“Our intention is not to advertise it as a gluten-free beer, but as a great-tasting beer that happens to be gluten-free.”

www.goodlifeimports.us
www.laitilan.com
Good News from Finland

Câmara de Comércio e Indústria Portuguesa apoia candidaturas aos Vales Internacionalização

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VALES INTERNACIONALIZAÇÃO

A Câmara de Comércio e Indústria Portuguesa é uma das entidades acreditadas para a prestação de serviços no âmbito dos Vales Internacionalização, o sistema de incentivos do Portugal 2020 que pretende apoiar projectos simplificados de internacionalização de PME.

Neste sentido, apoiamos as empresas na elaboração de candidaturas a este instrumento de financiamento, cuja submissão de candidaturas já está em andamento. Com a experiência acumulada de parceiros especializados em candidaturas, as PME podem encontrar na Câmara de Comércio o parceiro ideal para a realização dos seus projectos.

Contando com o apoio de uma rede privilegiada de contactos e parceiros, destacamos um conjunto de serviços onde poderá utilizar o Vale Internacionalização da sua empresa:
• Elaboração de estudos de caracterização de mercado;
• Business matching;
• Viagens individuais de negócios;
• Missões empresariais.

Contactos

 

Solarch brings digitalisation to self and homecare

iStock.com / Dean Mitchell 
Finnish health tech startup Solarch aims to digitise self and homecare in a user-friendly way. Its online service Activemedi improves communication and health data management between families and professional care providers.
Finnish health tech startup Solarch aims to digitise self and homecare in a user-friendly way. Its online service Activemedi improves communication and health data management between families and professional care providers.

Do you worry about family members living in different places? Finnish health tech startup Solarch may have the answer.

We have all had a doctor ask “are there any health problems in your family?” and not known or remembered the answer. It can be the same when trying to name your last vaccination or explain a relative’s health history to their caregiver.

It is these kinds of experiences from which new online health service Activemedi stems. The service brings health records into the digital age, storing them online and sorting them into easily understandable information. It is a far cry from the outdated approach of stacks of paper stored somewhere in a drawer. Consequently information such as medication, vaccinations and recent treatments are always in your pocket – at least if you have access to the Internet.

You can also set reminders for upcoming appointments and use graphs to follow wellbeing trends as well as create shared health profiles for your whole family.

“We want to empower people to take a more active approach in their own health and the health of their loved ones”, says Alireza Hasanpour, CEO and founder of Solarch, the Helsinki-based startup behind the service. “Self-care and mobility are the future.”

But the health database, called ‘With Me’, is only one part of the Activemedi service. This is also joined by ‘ICE’ (In Case of Emergency) gadgets and its homecare provider service ‘Care’.

Prepare for the unexpected

Hasanpour strongly believes in the demand for a family-centric approach in online health and gave up a successful career at Nokia to start Solarch in 2012. His ambition is to provide bespoke digital services, both for individuals and their families, on the back of meaningful use of health data.

The new Activemedi online health service consists of three components: a health database for families, ICE gadgets for emergency situations and an online service for homecare providers. (Photo: Jari Härkönen) The new Activemedi online health service consists of three components: a health database for families, ICE gadgets for emergency situations and an online service for homecare providers. (Photo: Jari Härkönen)

This is best illustrated by the company’s ICE emergency gadgets, launched last fall in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Fnland. These products include emergency cards and stickers equipped with QR codes as well as bracelets, keychains and stickers which incorporate NFC (Near Field Communication).Developed in cooperation with emergency and health care professionals, the gadgets provide vital health information when a patient is unable to provide it themselves. All medical professionals need is a smartphone to get a fast access to the patient’s emergency profile and ICE contact details.

”Imagine if my loved one with a heart disease goes out and falls. The ambulance personnel isn’t looking through  80 years of health data, but for crucial information which is potentially life saving, like heart ECG,” explains Hasanpour. ”We want to make that information easily available to the emergency personnel.”

”I would also want to be the first to know if my loved one is in an emergency situation and not learn about it days later. Now [with Activemedi] I receive an SMS alert if something has happened together with the location of the incident,” he continues.

Similarly Solarch’s Care service is aimed at bringing peace of mind to both patients and their next of kin, as well as aiding homecare professionals.

A notable example is homecare workers who can use the online service to manage their daily schedules, report progress with a few clicks and access up-to-date care information such as a change to a customer’s medication. Conversely the service allows a user’s family to communicate with the caregiver and receive real-time information on the visits.

International care

Solarch has had a busy start to the year. The company says that since its launch in late 2014 Activemedi has attracted several thousands of registered online users and sold a few hundreds of emergency gadgets around Finland. It has also secured the first customer for its Care service, homecare services company Stella.

Currently Solarch is working on new features such as integrating data from the Finnish National Archive of Health Information to Activemedi.

However, the next step for Solarch is to speed up internationalisation and it already is preparing for a few pilot projects for other Nordic countries. The service has already been translated into Swedish and English. Furthermore a new door opened for potential partnerships in May when the Nordic Independent Living Challenge (a health tech innovations competition for the elderly and disabled people) chose Activemedi to its second stage. Winners will be announced later in the summer.

To aid its expansion, the company is planning a new funding round to supplement its existing backing from Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation) and is actively looking to grow its team of four employees.

”We have investors and partners in Norway and Finland. We are based in Finland, but see the Nordic region as our home market. Next we will turn to the UK, Middle East, and the rest of the world. That is the direction we are heading,” says ambitious Hasanpour.  ”We want to build an online service the health sector doesn’t want to live without…an ecosystem where people and families are at the heart.”

”The service brings particular value to travellers, expats, people who have a loved one with chronic illness. In fact to anyone looking to take an active role in their health and wellbeing,” explains CEO of Solarch Alireza Hasanpour. (Photo: iStock.com / vgajic) ”The service brings particular value to travellers, expats, people who have a loved one with chronic illness. In fact to anyone looking to take an active role in their health and wellbeing,” explains CEO of Solarch Alireza Hasanpour.
(Photo: iStock.com / vgajic)
Text: Eeva Haaramo

www.activemedi.com Good News from Finland