A skilled researcher of Tuorekset products, an expert in quality and a specialist in chopped vegetables. These are all apt descriptions for Apetit’s Quality and Research Manager Anssi Vuorinen, 39, who joined the quality-conscious team in September 2015. At the time, the Apetit office in Helsinki’s Kivikko district sought an expert in vegetables. With broad expertise in agriculture, vegetables and food oils, Vuorinen jumped at the opportunity. His first assignment was to develop the preservability of the new Tuorekset product line, and he subsequently went on to work on other chopped vegetable products as well.
Vuorinen’s interest in agriculture stems from his childhood, as his father worked in agricultural research. Following in his father’s footsteps, Vuorinen studied at the University of Helsinki, at the Viikki campus. His academic credentials include an M.Sc. in plant husbandry (2002) and a Ph.D. in plant production biology (2011). He was a post-doctoral researcher in food chemistry and food development at the University of Turku from 2012 to 2015. Vuorinen brings to Apetit a diverse skill set and expertise in development.
“At Apetit, I’ll have the opportunity to combine knowledge and skills from different areas in interesting and varied ways. I can apply my knowledge of molecular plant biology and biochemistry in practice in the production of chopped vegetables as well as in interpreting the results of field experiments conducted at the Räpi farm. As a researcher, I have a good capacity for empirical thinking and take a critical approach in interpreting results. My familiarity with food chemistry and plant biology, combined with my practical experience in agriculture, allow me to see the big picture, from the field to the table,” Vuorinen says.
For a quality and research manager, no two days are the same. Among other things, Vuorinen maintains HACCP food safety risk assessments, is the leader for a food safety team, receives customer audits and conducts external and internal audits himself. He also conducts research related to the preservability of chopped vegetables, starting from biochemistry and molecular biology, and uses the results to develop new solutions for better shelf life.
“I’m also involved in the planning of our experimental cultivation activities at the Räpi farm. I also try to attend international conferences related to chopped vegetables at least once a year. New ideas are always welcome, and participating in conferences helps me develop my expertise and professional skills,” Vuorinen explains.
In line with its strategy, Apetit wants to be a leader in vegetable-based food solutions.
“This means we have a green light to invest in quality and also develop new high-quality food solutions. The production facility for fresh products has a strong spirit of development that helps us continuously improve to meet growing and changing expectations. In terms of quality standards, we already took a major step by achieving FSSC 22000 certification. But even higher requirements can be achieved through development,” Vuorinen says.
New packaging solutions, such as smart film, are being sought for fresh products. Other ways of extending the shelf life of chopped vegetables are also explored, such as improving water washing, focusing on working methods, and optimising the use of protective gases. Product quality is continually monitored, and new solutions for improving shelf life are always sought. The quality management system is continually being developed to make it even more effective.
“Ongoing improvement is one of the basic principles of quality management systems. Our great team in Kivikko works on the principle that quality is everyone’s concern. High quality leads to satisfied customers. Every shortcoming in quality is an opportunity to learn something new and further improve the process,” Vuorinen concludes.