HKScan celebrated the inaugural opening of its new, state-of-the-art poultry unit in the Rauma district of Lakari, Finland, on August 18.

The facility was inaugurated by the Finnish Minister of Agriculture Jari Leppä, Mayor of Rauma Kari Koski, Chairman of the HKScan Board Mikko Nikula and HKScan President and CEO Jari Latvanen. Valued at over EUR80 million (US$94 million), the new unit is the largest investment in HKScan Corporation’s history.

Strengthening HKScan's competitiveness, production and employment

The new, efficient unit will improve HKScan’s competitiveness and the overall profitability of the farm-to-fork chain, as well as give a boost to domestic poultry farming and local employment.

The state-of-the-art Rauma unit ranks among the most significant investments in the history of the Finnish food industry.

“We will have the best available technology at our disposal, which will enable us to develop even more innovative Kariniemen novelties for our home and export markets. The new unit will significantly boost our growth and strengthen our foothold in a product category that is strategically important to HKScan. We want to offer consumers tasty, responsibly produced foods that add convenience to their daily lives,” said Latvanen. “Our added production capacity will offer local farmers the opportunity to expand and develop their business.”

Construction of the new facility began early in 2016, and the project was completed on schedule. Pilot production is currently under way, with full-scale ramp-up to be completed by the end of the year.

High-quality Kariniemen artisan products

The new unit enables HKScan to spearhead Kariniemen products at the forefront of food innovation. Classics such as Kariniemen honey marinade – which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year – will be rounded out by a new range of high-quality, artisan novelties, the first of which will have their launch early next year. Among the first products to be launched in HKScan’s extensive new local food range include the new Kariniemen Kananpojan product family, which includes products perfect for busy weekday meals as well for gourmet-style pampering. All products in the new range are distinguished by their taste, convenience, excellent quality and appealing appearance. The product family also includes carefully prepared naturel products for home chefs looking for premium cooking ingredients.

Kariniemen: Commitment to animal welfare and the environment

The new unit is the most sophisticated poultry processing plant in all of Europe. It was designed and built with a special focus on animal welfare and environmental efficiency.

All poultry processed at the Rauma unit is domestic in origin and sourced from nearby farms from within a radius averaging no more than 70 km. HKScan has collaborated with animal behavior experts to ensure that the facilities are optimized for humane animal handling. Details such as the ventilation, temperature and lighting have been designed to minimize stress and keep the animals calm. The animal handling process has been streamlined, with all unnecessary steps eliminated.

The unit has been designed to secure environmentally sound operations; material, energy and environmental efficiency have been prioritized in all sourcing. Energy efficiency is optimized thanks to the plant’s advanced heat recovery system. State-of-the-art technology and energy-efficient processes help to minimize emissions, which was a key goal in the design of the facility. The main heat source at the unit is district heating generated 90 percent with renewable biofuels.

Promoting the circular economy was a further key goal at Rauma. Side-streams will be harnessed more effectively to improve both profit and environmental efficiency. Raw materials, which are normally not consumed in the European cuisine but fit excellently for human consumption (such as inner organs and feet) will be sold on export markets, particularly to Asia.

Artisan touch

The efficient, automated processes at the Rauma unit will allow the plant’s personnel to focus on hand-added touches and artisan quality. “We want to make consumers’ daily lives easier. Our professionals at Rauma have been trained to use the new equipment all through summer. Although we have adopted sophisticated new technology and increased our level of automation, we want to retain our artisan touch. Our team personally inspects every piece of chicken that goes into every package,” says Aki Laiho, executive vice president, operations. HKScan’s Rauma unit employs roughly 450 professionals, 300 of whom are employed directly in production.

Special effort was invested in work safety and occupational health in the design of the Rauma facility. The work environment and work procedures were co-designed as a collaborative effort between HKScan’s personnel and experts from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.