Valio’s Joensuu cheese plant generates taste and well-being

Valio has been manufacturing dairy products in Joensuu for decades. The plant has generated tasty products for consumers and financial well-being for the whole of North Karelia.

Star products Valio Polar® and Valio Viola®

Valio’s Joensuu plant produces one-third of all Valio cheeses and its annual output totals around 25 million kilos of cheese blocks, consumer packed cheeses, cream cheese and milk powders. The plant’s key products are Valio Polar® and Salaneuvos® cheeses and Valio Viola® cream cheese.

Valio Polar® cheese was first produced in Joensuu in 1979. The product family has since undergone continuous development and a number of variants with less fat have been added. Valio Polar® has become the most popular low fat cheese in Finland thanks to its delicious taste.

Cheese in Joensuu is made from milk collected within an average distance of 79 kilometres and supplied to the plant by around 840 Valio dairy farms, mostly in North Karelia.

A major employer

Valio and its milk producers employ nearly 2,800 people in and around North Karelia, including the plant’s personnel, milk collection and product distribution staff, and dairy farmers’ use of service providers. There are around 160 people working in Valio’s Joensuu plant.

Valio’s annual economic contribution in North Karelia amounts to around 100 million euros, which includes the price paid for raw milk to Valio milk producers, the salaries of personnel and taxes paid by them, and the water, energy and services’ purchases made in the region by the plant.

Continuous development

Valio has invested in the development of the Joensuu cheese plant in the last ten years to the tune of around 37 million euros from 2002–2012. Investments in plant development and new production lines at Joensuu will total around 10 million euros in 2013. The sum is higher compared with investments made in previous years.

The investments allow Valio to offer consumers more attractive products and are also the key to success in today’s competitive cheese markets.

Long traditions

During its history, the Joensuu plant has made almost everything that can be made from milk. In addition to cheese, cream cheese and powders, that means yoghurt, milk, butter and ice cream.

As a marker of the long-standing traditions associated with the plant, Valio has taken in milk at the current site since 1941. Cheese is still made in the same premises as 30 years ago. The premises are in fact the only things that remain the same, as the production lines, equipment and automation systems have been completely replaced over the years.

Joensuu lies at the heart of the province of North Karelia and can best be described as a pleasant town in Eastern Finland. Built at the mouth of the Pielisjoki river, Joensuu has a compact urban area with the market square as its centrepiece, and a number of lively outlying villages. Established in 1848, Joensuu has grown through several municipal mergers and with a current population of 75,000 is the 12th biggest town in Finland. Music and sport are important elements in Joensuu’s cultural life. Well-known names include musician brothers Ismo and Ilkka Alanko, the Ilosaarirock festival, the Joensuun Kataja basketball club, and Josba floorball club.