18.9. 2015 Kuukauden kasvo

Innovative and international

Timo Sorsavirta wants to reduce the quantity of waste and renew the ways of working in institutional kitchens. Foodduck Oy’s spread dispenser was recently awarded with an innovation prize, and its launch has had a promising start.

Foodduck Oy was founded three years ago with the purpose to develop a completely new kind of product, a spread dispenser, which had no competing product anywhere in the world. It was launched in late 2014 and is now being vigorously introduced under its own concept to the markets in Finland and other countries.

”The spread dispenser is intended for use in hotels, schools, restaurants, hospitals, old people’s homes and the like. With Foodduck the user can dispense spread directly on bread automatically and hygienically. Margarine, butter and vegetable oil mix or other spread is packed in a bag that is inside the dispenser”, explains Timo Sorsavirta, CEO of the Naantali-based company.

The precise portion size and efficient use of the package reduce wastage. Inside the dispenser the product keeps cold and is protected from bacteria, unlike tubs that sit in room temperature on tables. Use of tubs or single-serving butter pats results in a lot of spread being wasted, because they cannot be used again, so savings at municipal or chain level are significant. Furthermore, the dispenser generates only one tenth of the volume of waste compared to tubs. And they contain no aluminium like the inner lids of tubs.

”The spread dispenser is a very ordinary product and innovation, but we believed from the beginning that it will find a place in professional kitchens where everything is automated. We have applied for international patents for the product and system, and the international market potential is huge. The original idea was invented by my father Seppo Sorsavirta already years ago, but now was the right time in all respects to start doing something completely new”, Timo Sorsavirta says.

Getting started through pilots

The first devices were supplied to sales pilots in March. The dispenser is not sold, but the use is always based on monthly leasing. The concept includes trial use free of charge during which the best possible solution is sought together with the customer. At present, a number of municipalities and HoReCa enterprises are queuing for their pilot.

“The spread dispenser has been received very positively. It’s ecological and supports sustainable development. It’s easy to use and the restaurant people like it. It makes the queue move faster, hygiene is improved, and the dispenser is also suited to people with coeliac disease. It’s also possible to follow the consumption as the dispenser stores the information. By using the dispenser the customers save nature and money, as even at small volumes the savings are greater than costs”, Mr Sorsavirta says.

Target at international markets

Foodduck’s core team currently employs around 10 people and its subcontractors employ 10 more. The first two years have been spent on building product development, concept, sales organisation and co-operation models. The company is now ready to move on, as commercial production commenced at the end of August. In June, Foodduck made a strategic co-operation agreement with food industry giant Orkla.

“Orkla has eight margarine plants in different parts of Europe and 13 distribution companies, so we have no obstacles for doing business outside Finland. We will nevertheless proceed moderately and systematically and start the international operations in Scandinavia and selected Northern European countries. We are currently studying the markets in Sweden and Denmark. Our goal is that 80 % of our turnover will come from outside Finland by 2020. We are starting with yellow fats, but the dispenser is also suited to other products, such as jams, cheeses and chocolate spreads”, Timo Sorsavirta says.

Finnish origin is an advantage

Foodduck’s product has been granted the Key Flag and Design from Finland symbols of the Association for Finnish Work.

“Finnish work, quality, know-how and reliability will be our success factors on the international markets. It’s great that we can create new jobs in Finland these days. Foodduck is a start-up company that represents production business. That expertise has not disappeared, although the focus of new internationalising companies lies more in the software and game industry. I have friends among them, too, but yet I stand proud representing the more traditional ‘smokestack industry’”, Mr Sorsavirta says.

Awards keep coming

The young company has already received two enterprise awards which are highly appreciated by the entrepreneur.

Foodduck Oy received the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Turku Award of the Turku Region Development Centre on the European Day of the Entrepreneur (EDE) in May which was this year arranged to coincide with the Creative Business Camp 2015 event. Foodduck was awarded in the Born Global category due to its positive outlook for internationalisation.

At the end of August, Foodduck Oy’s spread dispenser was granted the innovation award in the company category in Southern Finland in the Productive Idea Competition of the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Finland.

Entrepreneurship runs in the family

Timo Sorsavirta is full of enthusiasm, but the young man’s background in a family of entrepreneurs has taught him that careful planning is more likely to generate results than running around too excited. That shows in careful building of the operating concept.

By using the dispenser the customers save nature and money,Timo Sorsavirta says.

“Patience is a virtue. We want to take good care of all our customers. My big brother Toni also joined the company recently and I’m really happy about having had good background resources for building Foodduck. Although this company is new, our family has been running various business operations for nearly 30 years.”

It was a natural choice for Timo Sorsavirta to set up a company, as he has seen all sides of entrepreneurship since he was a little boy. He was born and grew up in Naantali.

“Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to spend at home, because I’m mostly travelling, but I have to get things moving forward. I’ve mostly given up my hobbies, because I want to spend as much time as possible with my wife and 3-year-old daughter. I try to go to gym, but there wasn’t much spare time for golf and boating last summer”, he says, but his expression reveals that everything is all right.

“Foodduck makes you smile!”

Text and photos: Anne Kortela

Timo Sorsavirta

  • 2012– CEO/entrepreneur, Foodduck Oy, Naantali
  • Bachelor of Engineering
  • Different positions in family-owned companies, e.g. Sepima Oy, Naantali
  • Family: Wife and 3-year-old daughter Elin
  • Hobbies: Gym, boating, golf

Foodduck Oy, Naantali

  • Start-up, founded in 2012
  • Number of employees 10
  • Contract manufactures and markets spread dispensers to institutional kitchens
  • Commercial production started in August 2015
  • Internationalisation has started
  • Goal: 80% of turnover from international markets by 2020
  • Key Flag and Design from Finland symbols
  • Recognitions:
    • Entrepreneurial Spirit of Turku Award: Born Global category, May 2015
    • Innovation award in the company category in Southern Finland in the Productive Idea Competition, August 2015