Hanna Ylä-Mononen appointed new chair of the Päijät-Häme Grain Cluster
Lahti Region Development LADEC Ltd
PRESS RELEASE January 25, 2023
Vice President of Fazer Mills Jarkko Arrajoki passed the chairmanship of the Grain Cluster to Managing Director of Villähteen Leipä Oy Hanna Ylä-Mononen at the turn of the year. Both chairs say that the strength of the 20-year-old Grain Cluster, formed by businesses at the forefront of circular economy, lies in effective cooperation.
Lahti Region is home to Finland’s largest and most diverse conglomeration of grain-related expertise. The Päijät-Häme Grain Cluster is a regional co-operation network of farmers and companies that process grain-based raw materials. Its purpose is to support the networking of local farmers and the companies of the cluster, increase co-operation between companies that process grain and promote the profile of the region’s grain expertise.
“The most important highlight from my time as chair was the strong drive of businesses to develop things together. We updated the Grain Cluster’s strategy and chose product development, ensuring skilled labour by means of education, and closer cooperation between the businesses of the cluster with regard to export as the new spearheads. The cleanest groundwater in the world will also be included more strongly in the cluster’s themes in the future,” sums up former Chair Jarkko Arrajoki.
The Grain Cluster has strengthened cooperation with higher education institutions, including LUT University, LAB University of Applied Sciences, Salpaus Further Education and Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK). A product development laboratory is currently being built on the Lahti campus of LAB University of Applied Sciences, and the Grain Cluster is strongly involved in its launch.
“The product development laboratory can be used to test and develop various foods and food production methods as well as research and improve product properties. Manufacturing small test batches for consumer testing is also possible,” Arrajoki says.
The new operating environment, wide range of equipment and the experts of LAB will facilitate more agile product trials for the businesses of the Grain Cluster and other local operators.
“The operators of the Grain Cluster’s bread and beverage chain require a local, flexible and varied development environment. We’re happy to join our partners in building facilities for future innovation activities,” Arrajoki states.
During Jarkko Arrajoki’s two-year stint as chair, almost all of the businesses of the Grain Cluster made sizeable investments. The largest of them in terms of the amount of euros invested were Viking Malt’s new malthouse, Fazer’s xylitol factory, and the joint biogas plant of Hartwall and Lahti Energia.
Hanna Ylä-Mononen takes up the role of the Grain Cluster’s chair at a very interesting point in time. She characterises Päijät-Häme as the Finnish cluster of grain and beverage excellence with the best expertise in the bread and beverage industry in the country.
“Updating the strategy clarified the objectives and the guidelines for activities. The role of the Grain Cluster in international food exports will also grow further thanks to the investments in education and product development and in connection with the activities of the national Food Campus network,” Ylä-Mononen remarks.
“We hope that the origin of these products, processed from the best groundwater in the world and clean grain ingredients, will eventually be recognised around the world. We already have several products that are well-known around the world,” Hanna Ylä-Mononen says.
The Päijät-Häme Grain Cluster is a strongly business-led cluster in which Lahti Region Development LADEC plays the role of coordinator.
Text: Taru Shcroderus
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