Emmi Martikainen, R&D Manager at Valio tells us what it takes to produce great baby food solutions. Her answers are based on years of experience and an MSc in Food Technology. That’s why her view on quality is perhaps a lot simpler than one might expect.
Instead of attributing the high quality of Valio’s products directly to innovative production processes and high-tech solutions, she simply points out; “Quality comes from the exceptional raw materials we use. In fact, when the quality of the milk used in production is as high as it is in our case, you need to do a lot less to it. That’s what gives Valio’s dairy products that unmistakable fresh and clean flavour.” In addition, we invest heavily on high quality analytics – chemical, microbiological and physical – with a focus on understanding the physical aspects of baby food solutions. We also work closely with production facilities to further develop the processes of creating baby food solutions.
Quality comes from the exceptional raw materials we use.
All products are lovingly manufactured using our own fresh raw materials, which can always be traced back to the individual source farm. In some cases we can even tell you the name of the individual cow. “Quality control, especially when making ingredients for baby food solutions, is of vital importance. All of the raw materials we use are safe and follow the existing standards for baby food contaminants and pesticides,” Emmi Martikainen stresses. “Also, all of Valio’s products for baby food solutions are guaranteed to be GMO-free.”
“The quality of our products stems from the quality of the milk itself. We are a dairy company, and we only use our own fresh raw materials,” Emmi Martikainen continues. “And freshness is something you can taste.” The clean Arctic conditions where Finnish dairy cattle lives has a lot to do with it. The cool climate, fresh feed and the cleanest air in the world all play a part. All this allows Valio to use extremely gentle heat treatment, which contributes to the pure white colour and fresh taste of the end products themselves.
Emmi Martikainen also explains how this freshness is preserved through the entire value chain. “Just to give you an example, the whey used in the production of Valio Demi™ demineralised whey powders at our Lapinlahti Factory come fresh from our own cheese factory directly next door. We know the quality, we know exactly where it’s coming from, and we know that it is fresh when we begin processing it into its final form.” The exact same dedication to consistent quality and freshness applies to all our powders. The basis for all our infant formula quality powders is always milk. Ingredients are blended together in liquid form before turning them into powder. The wet blending process ensures consistency and uniformity throughout every batch.
We are close to finishing the construction of a new dry blending facility in Lapinlahti. This allows us to produce products with even more variety, such as added special components like lactoferrin and probiotics.
“We at Valio are firm supporters of the WHO recommendations regarding breastfeeding, but we are equally committed to providing the highest quality alternatives for those situations where mothers simply cannot comply. This is why we also try to find ways to make the composition of our baby food solutions as close to the natural breast milk as possible”, says Emmi Martikainen. “At the same time, it also means that all Baby Food Solutions must meet the existing nutritional regulations and guidelines supported by the latest research. It’s interesting that in many ways, milk fat is naturally closer to the composition of the fat in breast milk than vegetable fat.” To make this transparent, we’ve started to build a Similarity Index as a tool for both ourselves and our customers.
Valio maintains the highest standards in hygiene and product quality through regular testing and monitoring. “If it’s from Valio, it has been crafted with pride and care. Our production facilities take quality and hygiene extremely seriously. We make sure absolutely no allergens are allowed in our raw materials or anywhere in our production facilities,” explains Emmi Martikainen. “At the same time our R&D department, which happens to be celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year, leans on strong traditions of innovation to ensure that we continue to produce new ideas that are as fresh as our powders for Valio Baby Food Solutions.”
In this whitepaper, Dr Anu Turpeinen explains the effects of phospholipids that are naturally found in dairy fat. Food products rich in phospholipids have effects related to physical activity and cognitive functions in all age groups.
Baby food, Special nutrition