Valio has been operating in the US since 1958. Finlandia Cheese Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Valio that primarily sells and markets Valio cheese and butter imported from Finland under the Finlandia® brand in the United States. Throughout the years Valio has brought variety to the selection of premium cheese available at deli counters, but the role of prepackaged consumer cheese is now on the rise.
Valio's focus in the US is on premium products
Valio started exporting Emmental cheese to the United States in the 1950s. Our persistent efforts have made the cheese and butter sold under the Finlandia brand some of the most popular premium products on the market. Our most important market area in the country is the east coast, but products are sold in chain stores and small delicatessens around the country.
Growth from consumer trends
The 2010s have been a time of growth for Valio's US subsidiary, Finlandia Cheese. We have expanded our selection of cheese with many new products and, in 2015, a completely new product was introduced to the US market: Finlandia butter made by Valio in Finland.
"Naturalness, responsibility and rich flavour are in highw demand among our target group – educated consumers who buy premium products. Made from clean finnish milk from family farms, Valio products are a very good match to all these trends," says Emma Aer, CEO of Valio's subsidiary Finlandia Cheese.
Finnish Emmental has charmed the US
The story of Finlandia cheese begins in the late 1950s. That’s when Valio started exporting Emmental cheese to the United States under its own name. The Finlandia brand was developed in the 1970s for marketing purposes. Over the years, Valio's Emmental cheese – known as Finlandia Swiss Cheese in the US – has become the market leader in the country.
"Our current position is the result of persistent work, as the US market is highly competitive. To succeed, you must choose your target group and marketing with care. However, even niche products have great growth potential, as there are so many potential consumers," Emma Aer explains.
In addition to Emmental cheese and butter, Finlandia Cheese also sells other products familiar to Finns, such as Finlandia Light Swiss® and Finlandia Keisarinna® made by Valio in Finland. Products specifically designed for the US market, such as jalapeño and sriracha flavoured cheese and Muenster cheese, are also part of the selection. All in all, the product selection consists of 84 different products.
Success based on a recognised brand
Finlandia Cheese imports some products from Finland, but a strong selection of locally produced cheese and Estonian imports is also featured. Nowadays the company employs around 30 people in product development, sales, marketing and the supply chain, some of whom work at the Finlandia Cheese main office in Parsippany, New Jersey and the rest in sales around the country.
"Working together with stores is very important, and this is where sales plays a vital role. When you get your product into the selection of a large chain like Walmart or Costco, you can reach tens of millions of consumers. On the other hand, small shops are also important for our marketing, as Finlandia is primarily known as a delicacy brand found at the deli counter," says Emma Aer.
"The main objective of Finlandia Cheese currently is profitable growth. This is helped by our long history and high-quality products, and the well-known and highly regarded Finlandia. For example, in our most important market area, the east coast of the US, we are recognised by 70% of our main target group. This gives us a solid foundation for greater success," Emma Aer concludes.