Aleksi Hauhtonen, the 38-year-old CEO of Kannuksen Kauppapuutarha, lives an interesting and busy entrepreneurial life. Every year, the family business produces more than a million kilos of cucumbers and half a million lettuces in its 8,500 square metre greenhouse growing facilities.
Aleksi’s vegetables are grown free of chemical pesticides with biopesticides only used to make produce safe to eat. But to keep his vegetables fresher for longer the use of super-lightweight packaging film is his first choice, ecologically and economically.
“Local food has become more important and is appreciated more among consumers,” says Aleksi. “The local produce is truly clean and fresh and tastes great. When I stroll around our greenhouses, I always pick a cucumber straight from the plant and eat it. They do not need to be washed since the products are already clean – that is a must.” But keeping it fresh for the end consumers is also a key requirement.
RaniShrink Food extends shelf life and is recyclable
Increasingly, consumers want to buy domestically grown, organic produce, which poses new challenges for packaging. Using RaniShrink Food lightweight packaging film not only significantly extends the shelf life of products like cucumbers, but reduces waste which is ecologically more damaging than plastic itself. Because the film is lighter, it is more economical to use and fully recyclable.
“It is important to us that the printing on the packaging film is of highest standard, that the packaging material is compatible with our equipment, is uniform in quality and is as ecologically acceptable as possible,” says Aleksi.
The plastic film used to package cucumbers has become a lot thinner using 40% less plastic than a decade ago. Today, Rani Plast is Kannuksen Kauppapuutarha’s main supplier of plastic packaging for cucumbers, providing a cost-effective solution for customers for many reasons.
It is important to us that the printing on the packaging film is of highest standard, that the packaging material is compatible with our equipment, is uniform in quality and is as ecologically acceptable as possible.Aleksi Hauhtonen
“RaniShrink Food is really thin (15µm), making it the lightest plastic ever,” says Aleksi. “The fact that it is thinner and lighter results in a more competitive price. Plastic is sold by the kilo, so the less we use for packaging, the more profitable the business. We also like the stable quality of RaniShrink Food,” he says.
War on Waste
The EU produces around 88 million tonnes of food waste every year, which is a major problem economically and ecologically. Although many consider plastic used in packaging to be the biggest environmental problem, research tells another story, as this post shows:
“An increase in cucumber waste of even one to two per cent is more harmful to the environment than plastic production. So, the most important thing is to keep the product fresh until consumption. For example, plastic film doubles or triples the shelf life of a cucumber.” (Source: Finnish Glasshouse Growers’ Association)
Aleksi says: “Our products are fresh when they reach the customer. We do not produce any waste. For example, many restaurants are happy to use second-grade cucumbers with a curve because they can be used in salads. As a result, we are virtually a zero-waste company. This, in turn, minimises waste for the stores and other outlets we supply.”
Plastic film doubles or triples the shelf life of a cucumber.Finnish Glasshouse Growers’ Association
Perfect match with Rani Plast
Aleksi’s parents founded Kannuksen Kauppapuutarha in 1977. Their business has always been based on high quality and hard work. The increased appreciation and demand for local food coincided with Aleksi joining and buying the majority stake in the company in 2010.
A few years ago, Kannuksen Kauppapuutarha was looking for a reliable and safe plastic packaging film supplier. In the food industry, especially the vegetable business, delivery reliability is vital because the life cycle of the product is short. It is important for Aleksi that cooperation is based on trust.
“In my opinion, all-round trust and an open relationship form a really strong foundation for partnerships. I appreciate Rani because they are interested in their customers, they are customer oriented, and the price-quality ratio of their products is optimal. Price is important, but it is not the only factor. Delivery reliability and quality must also exist, and taking care of the customer is extremely important,” Aleksi insists.
Aleksi also appreciates the fact that Rani Plast is a Finnish partner, the close proximity of Teerijärvi to Kannus being an advantage.
I appreciate Rani because they are interested in their customers, they are customer oriented, and the price-quality ratio of their products is optimal.Aleksi Hauhtonen
Local food production has a bright future
In Finland, the demand for local food continues to grow, and since the beginning of the COVID crisis it has become clear that locally produced products are increasingly valued.
“I am a major consumer of domestic products, and I love producing local food for consumers. We always put quality first. We focus on making excellent, top quality products. That accounts for a lot in what we do.” Aleksi, concludes with a smile on his face.