In February, Dubai hosted the 22nd annual Gulfood, world’s largest annual food and beverage exhibition. This year, the exhibition was attended by Food from Finland, the official government-funded programme to promote Finnish food industry. We had the pleasure to sit down with head of the programme, Mr Esa Wrang. Esa explains us why Finnish food is so unique and what is has to offer to the Middle Eastern region.
Esa, please tell us first in few sentences what is Food from Finland.
Food from Finland supports Finnish companies producing foods and beverages to open new markets. Currently, approximately 130 companies have joined us and 1oo of them are our members. The biggest players of our Nordic country are with us. We work in some fifteen countries. In the Middle East, our focus is upon the United Arab Emirates and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
What kind of activities do you do?
Our work is very much commercial and hands on. Annually we take part to or organize over forty events around the world. In addition to taking part to exhibitions like Gulfood, we organize networking events in Finland and abroad to bring our member companies in touch with local buyers. Last year, we organized such events also in Dubai and in the Finnish Embassy of Riyadh. Our other events include media events and trainings.
What makes Finnish food so unique, especially to the Middle East?
Finnish food that we represent is known to be healthy and natural, partly also wild food. In the Middle East, we focus on our health promoting products as well as food safety. Products like wild berries and oat products are beneficial to all of us but especially to people suffering from high cholesterol, overweight and diabetes. With regards to food safety, Finland is the only country in the world without any cases of salmonella or other contagious animal diseases. Also, the use of preventive antibiotics is prohibited by law.
Like discussed, Food from Finland participated this year to Gulfood in Dubai. How did you find the exhibition?
The Middle East is an important region to us and Gulfood is an essential part of the work. We were looking at the exhibition already in 2016 and now this year we were able to take part to it. Most probably we will participate also in 2018. Currently, there aren’t many Finnish food companies in the Middle East so we have some work to do.
When you have guests from abroad, which Finnish foods do you recommend them to try?
I love fish food and always recommend my guests to try courageously different fish species. Finnish fish food is so much more than salmon. Have a try of perch, vendace, eel or bream with mushroom sauce. Finish up with a desert based on our wild berries. Actually some time ago we had a delegation from the UAE visiting Helsinki, and together with the team of Visit Finland we organized a lunch with Finnish white fish and sea buckthorn desert. Also the sour but very healthy sea buckthorn berry was appreciated by our guests.
Finally Esa, tell us how do you enjoy your bilberries?
We have berries for breakfast with my wife. Every morning we enjoy some fresh bilberries or lingonberries with yoghurt for breakfast. What a healthy and delicious way to start your day.
We could not agree more. Thank you for the interview Esa Wrang!
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