EUROPE – Raisio Group has said that it is investing about US$51 million (EUR 45 million) in a new plant-based food production facility.

This is in response to the growing demand for plant-based food products especially in the European markets.

It further builds on the company’s portfolio of plant-based and healthy products including cholesterol-lowering Benecol brand.

Raisio said it will establish a European business based on the company’s strong oat expertise and plant-based food to strengthen its position as an international, innovative brand focused on healthy food.

“This investment is the biggest one in organic growth for Raisio in decades and one of the most robust in the Finnish food sector lately,” said Raisio’s President and CEO Pekka Kuusniemi.

“The development of the market for responsibly produced plant-based food is only beginning.

“Inspired by consumer insight, our special expertise and strong brands, we will develop new plant-based products.”

The new production facility will be built in the company’s carbon-neutral industrial area in Raisio, increasing its own production capacity.

With production set to begin in 2021, the new factory will employ 30 to 35 people some working in product development.

It will focus on added value products in which oats and a wide variety of plant-based raw materials can be used as well as eco-friendly packages in line with Raisio’s responsibility programme.

The firm which owns brands such as Provena oats and Torino pasta makes healthy food and fish feeds from two production sites located in Finland.

The company sold its confectionery business to Valeo Foods Group for €100 million (US$113 million) in 2017.

The divestment which included the Poppets and Fox’s brands was in line with the company’s strategy to focus on healthy foods.

Last year, Raisio announced plans to sell its feed business that includes cattle and fish feeds, sold in Finland and Russia.