Hygienic Innovation in Food Processing: Lindfors’ Global Expansion and Product Development

Lindfors tastes success

With over 25 years of experience in supplying production lines to all areas of the food industry, Antti Lindfors’ business mission is ‘the hygienic rationalisation of the food industry’.

Based in Kauhajoki in Finland, the company’s products are produced entirely from the highest quality stainless steel and specialist plastics, and developed in conjunction with individual customers’ requirements. Lindfors supplies production lines, which boast many benefits, including the maximisation of production output and excellent operational reliability, and in addition they are easy to maintain and clean.

Lindfors’ product range includes cheese and meat processing machines, packing machines, box handling systems, tray filling machines, robot systems and conveyors. To compliment this, Lindfors offers almost 30 years of experience in the development of these products, as well as an innovative workforce, with a solid education. Furthermore, design work is based on 3D software and simulation programmes. In addition to the in-house design and manufacturing activities of Lindfors, the company also works together with universities and the Technical Research Centre of Finland, VTT, to develop customer solutions. As a result, new ideas and product improvements can promptly be implemented into the production processes.

Iiro Valtonen, sales manager at the business elaborates: “Continuous product development is extremely important to us. We do a great deal of research and development work in conjunction with customers and government owned organisations. Part of our important research is based around understanding hygienic food processing, which is one of the key focuses at the moment. There have also been recent developments in tray filling line technology, which has seen a boom in that particular market sector.”

Looking at new product developments, Iiro continues: “We are currently developing a new range of tray dispensers, which increase line speed but also uses less energy. This new product range will be just one part of the production line but it will be able to double productivity, whilst maintaining the high quality Lindfors has become known for.”

In addition to product development, Lindfors has recently expanded its operations with the opening of a new facility in Estonia. Iiro explains: “This site has now been up and running for approximately nine months. Initially the facility is manufacturing simple, stainless steel core structures. However, in the following years we hope it will develop to have totally automated processes, and to take care of maintenance in the Baltic countries and Russia.”

The company’s reputation throughout the industry is enhanced by the emphasis it puts on close, long-term partnerships with its customers. Iiro comments: “We have a very close relationship with Tetra Pak Tebel, where we design and produce brand name machines for cheese processing. This has been a very close relationship, which has been going for over ten years now. Over 50 per cent of our turnover came from Tetra over the past year and we hope to continue with this strong partnership in the future. In addition, we supply to a number of companies in Finland, including meat and dairy producers, and we also work in close co-operation with Handtmann in Germany that supplies machines to the meat industry.”

With partners like Tetra Pak, Lindfors’ growth opportunities are significantly increased. Iiro explains: “We are quite a small company but we are operating on an international basis. We need large, strong partners like Tetra Pak to help us reach new markets. Through these partnerships we can develop a reputation, which will hopefully attract new customers.”

He continues: “One area, which Tetra Pak has helped us venture into is Russia. This is a very exciting market for us as there is plenty of opportunity. I have been in the Moscow and St Petersburg area looking into potential customers – we are expecting to sell cheese and box handling systems here.”

Iiro adds: “We recently received our first cheese machine order from a Russian customer via Tetra Pak, and we hope that the new site in Estonia will serve this market in the coming years. Many Finnish companies are now investing in the Baltic region and Russia, so there are some definite business opportunities there.”

Looking at current developments in the food industry, Iiro elaborates: “The last two or three years have been very tough in our business area, but it is now stabilising, and I believe that this will continue. The main challenge that we face is that companies across Finland need to expand their business into the international arena, as the greatest developments are outside of the home market.”

He concludes: “The vision for the next few years is to grow the business by ten per cent each year. This gradual growth helps us to keep in touch with our customers and understand their needs. We are continuing to look for new partners in Europe to help with these growth plans but our main focus at the moment is Russia.”

Antti Lindfors

Products: Food processing machines and systems
Sites: Finland, Estonia
Employees: 60