Raw-material: Potato

Organic Potato Starch is made of Organic Potatoes contract grown in the region of the factory. In the case of Finnamyl Ltd this means South West and Western Finland – while Aloja Starkelen buys its organic potatoes from Northern Latvia and the Southern parts of Estonia. In any case we are producing organic potatoes even at 63 degrees North – which is pretty north! The benefit is the 22 hours of daily sunlight in the summer and a cold winter that takes care of most pests.

Cultivation of starch potatoes is a different business compared to table potato production. The potato varieties have been bred for high starch content and are therefore different varieties than table potatoes. The starch content of the potatoes is approximately 20%. In table potato terminolgy they could be called floury or mealy potatoes. However already 14% starch content in table potatoes would be considered floury.

From the farmers point of view producing for potato starch means that the whole harvest is shipped to the factory directly and there is no need for storage of potatoes and of course no need for further marketing and sales work and no storage losses. Organic starch potato production is based on long-term contracts and commitments with the farmers. Finnamyl and Aloja Starkelsen both have agronomists managing the farmer contracts and cultivation and they also are available to help the contract farmers whenever they need advice.

 (Photographer: Erkki Poytaniemi)

Finnamyl CEO Ossi Paakki examining an organic starch potato at harvest.

The basis of production is healthy, vital seed potato. Both Finnamyl and Aloja Starkelsen organize the production of seed potato for their farmers under contract.

Organic starch potatoes produce a good 4.000 kg of potato starch per hectare on a normal year, leaving a smaller carbon footprint than, for example, grain starch. Through short distance transportation, environmentally friendly procedures and continuous training of our contracted farmers, we aim to increase yields and reduce our carbon footprint even further.

Aloja Starkelsen works closely with the Baltic Organic Potato Project to develop organic potato production in Latvia and Estonia.

Both Finnamyl and Aloja Starkelsen believe in the growth of the organic food market and are therefore expanding the contracted cultivation area of organic starch potatoes in Finland and in Latvia and Estonia and Lithuania respectively. Recently we have started to produce organic potato starch also at Lyckeby in Sweden. With three distinct growing areas on three sides of the Baltic Sea the cooperation guarantees reliable and increasing availability of high quality organic potato starch. All the countries in question are European leaders in terms of proportion of organics of the total field area.

Potato starch is produced in a production campaign at the time of potato harvest. The campaign starts in August and continues until the mid or end of November. At Finnamyl organic potato starch is still a very small part of the total production of 24.000 tons of potato starch.  All in all Finnamyl processes over 1 million kg of potatoes every day during the campaign. However organic potato starch is produced within only 3-4 days. At Aloja Starkeslen – where total capacity is smaller than at Finnamyl – every week is begun from the totally cleaned production line with organic production and organic production is proportionately much more important.

The loads brought in by the farmers are analysed to ascertain the purity, quality and starch content of the potatoes. Farmers are informed of the quality and starch content of the load quickly through an automated process which ensures they have this information before leaving to fetch another load.

 (Photographer: Erkki Poytaniemi)

Washed organic potatoes at Finnamyl. Next step will be crushing the potatoes to extract the potato starch.

Processing the potatoes begins immediately after the quality check. First the potatoes are washed and crushed. After this the crushed mass is sifted and the tiny starch granules are retained. The starch is washed out and dried to powder. You can see pictures of the Finnamyl process in our blog posting of the 2012 campaign.

The pulp that comprises the fibrous by-product of this process is used as feed and the cell sap from the potatoes is spread back on the fields to recycle the nutrients found in the potato. 2012 was the first year that also the pulp from the organic process at Finnamyl was separated from conventional, certified organic and supplied to an organic cattle farm as fodder. At Aloja Starkelsen the potato pulp is fed to a different kind of animal: red worms that transform the pulp into high-value vermi-compost.  Since 2015 Finnamyl has concentrated the potato juice into a fertiliser that can be used on organic farms and started a cooperation with Soilfood in 2018. We are developing circular economy!

The high standards across all areas of our operations are the key factor to our success. In order to ensure the continuous development and improvement of our operations, we review our quality aims each year and consistently monitor the realisation of these aims.

We uphold the regulations, legislation and governmental guidelines that apply to our industry. We operate in a responsible manner with regards to the community and the use of natural resources. In developing our products and processes, we aim to improve both the quality of our products and develop procedures which are safe, sustainable and promote recycling of materials. We do all we can to reduce our impact on the environment: we break down the waste and emissions caused by our operations, and make use of raw materials, energy and other resources to the fullest possible extent. We communicate openly and honestly about our operations and quality policy while maintaining the confidentiality of our shareholders. We furthermore encourage our business partners to uphold these principles. We review our quality policy every year in a management review to ensure its continuing compatibility with our business concept.

Please feel free to contact us for any further information.