Attention, attention – fresh winds are blowing in the Latvian ice cream industry! The legendary lemon ice cream Vēsma of the Tio brand is back with three refreshing news – a new “retro” style design, a new and light flavor in a waffer cone, two brand new and vegan-friendly sorbet ice creams on sticks.

The innovative overhaul of Vēsma has happened thanks to the sustainability initiative of Latvia’s leading dairy company Food Union to offer consumers nutritionally “lighter” dairy and vegan-friendly ice creams made exclusively from fruit and berries. The recipes of the new products have been developed at the Food Union’s ice cream competence center in Riga. Meanwhile, investments made to develop and launch the Vesma ice creams of the Tio brand on the Latvian market are estimated at roughly 40,000 euros.

Ģirts Liniņš, Food Union Ice Cream Brand Manager, says: “The hotter the summer, the cooler the Vēsma ice cream! And vice versa, because whatever the weather in June, July and August, we will want to enjoy the season in any case. If it’s hot, let’s refresh ourselves with Vēsma. If it’s chilly, we’ll enjoy Vēsma anyway, because ice cream is the most authentic taste of summer. And of course, let’s not forget about our healthy lifestyle habits, in which the Vēsma ice creams, made either from skim cheese whey or vegan-friendly ingredients, will fit in perfectly!”

Apple and lemon in a cup

In response to the growing demand for nutritionally “lighter” ice creams, the Vēsma line has been expanded by adding one new product in a wafer cup. This unique cheese whey ice cream is now also available in a refreshing green apple flavor. In addition, consumers are also offered the legendary lemon-flavored Vēsma, which is made to the same old recipe but with a new wrapping at Food Union’s main European factory, Rīgas piena kombināts, since 1975.

Two vegan-friendly ice creams – on sticks

This summer, Vēsma aims to become the leading industrially produced vegan-friendly ice cream brand in Latvia. For this reason, a brand new product category has been introduced – two fruit and berry sorbets on sticks, which are basically made exclusively from plant-based ingredients. As a result, sorbet ice creams made from real raspberries and mangoes are now available to every consumer favoring a vegan diet.

All four new Vēsma ice creams of the Tio brand are now available in the most popular stores across Latvia.

Innovative and classic, creamy and lean, fruity and vegan-friendly, crunchy and springy – this ice cream season, the leading dairy processing company in Latvia, Food Union, has prepared new products that cater to a wide range of trends. A total of 11 new ice creams have been created for the Latvian market, which customers will recognize on store shelves by the names of their favorite brands: Pols, Tio, Ekselence, Jungle Pop, and Karlsons. The investments made in the development of these new products amount to approximately 115 thousand euros.

 

Ģirts Liniņš, the ice cream brand manager of Food Union, says: “Summer is the most anticipated time of the year for most people, including us, as we are the leading ice cream producer in the Baltic countries. Therefore, as usual, we have prepared carefully for it, and as a result, we have created 11 interesting novelties for our five major ice cream brands – not only from milk and sweet cream but also with lower fat content and vegan-friendly options.  Therefore, every fan of this refreshing treat will be able to find something that suits their taste buds and dietary preferences this summer. Buy, enjoy, and savor, because ice cream is the true taste of summer.”

Innovative ice creams with care for sustainability

Following the growing consumer demand for “lighter” ice creams, the Vēsma ice cream line has been expanded with three new varieties. Now, in addition to the well-known lemon flavor, apple Vēsma ice cream made from cheese whey is also available in waffle cones. Additionally, two vegan-friendly “Vēsma” ice creams on sticks, made from real raspberries and mango, are now offered.

Meanwhile, the legendary and always witty ice cream brand Pols has introduced an entirely new category to its range – a medium-sized vanilla ice cream cone with a chocolate “cap” and a volume of 150 ml. There are two flavors on offer: Pols vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate coating and peanut crumbles, and Pols vanilla ice cream with cranberry sauce and dark chocolate coating.

But with the most innovative recipe, texture and also the potential to win the hearts of ice cream lovers of all ages this year is the ice cream brand Jungle Pop, which is popular among children and adults. Its range has been supplemented with a very playful innovation – bubble gum-flavored gel ice cream, which becomes playfully springy when it melts a little.

Four classic ice creams with new flavors

The dessert ice cream brand Ekselence will surprise gourmets this summer with one very expressive novelty – sweet-cream ice cream in a large waffle cone with Riga Black Balsam and cherries. As with all Ekscelence ice creams, this one also has an elegant topping topped with berry sauce and mini brownie cookies.

Pols brand mango ice cream in bright orange mango glaze on a stick has just returned to store freezers. But now, taking into account consumer preferences, it is available in a slightly larger size – 75 grams.

Finally, the range of both most popular ice cream brands in Latvia has been supplemented with two new products. The traditional Tio ice cream has returned to its classic values, introducing vanilla with whole raisins in a waffle cup. On the other hand, the iconic vanilla-chocolate ice cream Karlsons is now available with a new – cranberry jam.

All 11 new ice creams are already available in the most popular store chains  throughout Latvia.

Strong and customer-loved dairy and ice cream brands with innovative flavours – that’s exactly what the food products produced by Food Union are. This is also confirmed by the recently conducted study of the international market and consumer research company NielsenIQ on the best new product launches of 2023 in the Baltic States. This time, our company won four awards for last year’s Kārums and Pols novelties.

Three awards in Latvia

The truly special poppy seeds-plombir curd snack Kārums created by the Latvian people in honor of the XXVII General Latvian Song and XVII Dance Festival received two awards in Latvia. In the main top of the best new products, in which a wide variety of different products competed, curd snack was ranked in the honorable third place, while in the category of dairy products – in the first place!

On the other hand, in the ice cream category, the legendary brand Pols Strawberry flavoured ice cream with strawberry filling, chopped wafers and coating in waffle cup became the winner.

One award in Lithuania

Pols also became the winner in the ice cream category in Lithuania, thanks to its strawberry ice cream in strawberry glaze on a stick.

Ieva Lejniece, director of the Marketing and Product R&D department of Food Union: “For us, as the largest food producer in Latvia, the high achievements in the annual NielsenIQ best new product study is a very important recognition. The received awards confirm the ability of Food Union to not stop at what the company has achieved, and to create truly successful and innovative products year after year that meet consumer tastes and market trends. So far, the ideas and recipes of all our new products have been created through the cooperation of two departments – product research and development and marketing. However, in order for us to surprise not only our customers, but also ourselves with even more exciting and competitive new product ideas, we have created a merged Marketing and Product Research and Development unit. I am sure that with even closer cooperation of our talented team, we will be the leader in production of not only tasty and innovative, but also healthy food products in Latvia”.

Spring is in full bloom, so Latvia’s leading dairy processing company “Food Union” continues to delight consumers with fresh new products. This time, the company comes out with pleasant news for all fans of the “Zilonītis” drinkable yogurt brand – now the range also includes yogurt with forest strawberry flavor. This new product has been available in stores all over Latvia since mid-April.
The main ingredients of the new “Zilonītis” forest strawberry yogurt are the highest quality milk, natural berry additives, and lactic acid bacteria culture. Thanks to its excellent taste and rich nutritional value, the product is a great solution for morning meals, eaten together with breakfast cereals or muesli, and as a healthy snack.
Overall, “Zilonītis” offers three drinkable yogurts – the new forest strawberry, as well as peach and ice cream flavors. Production takes place at “Food Union’s” main factory – “Rīgas piena kombināts”, Riga, Latvia.

The legendary Latvian brand Kārums celebrates a round 30 years of its beloved symbol –  Crow (Vārna in Latvian). To honor this milestone in Latvia, the leading dairy processing company Food Union has launched a special campaign Celebrate KRĀ! and once again invites people to create a new curd snack flavour to surprise the Crow on its birthday. The creation of the new anniversary curd snack flavour has already begun, and it will continue until June 5 on the website www.kra30.eu. It is expected that the most popular of all the flavour combinations will become the special celebratory curd snack dedicated to the Crows’s anniversary and will hit the stores this autumn.

The Crow was “born” in 1994

An interesting historical fact – the Crow is not actually of the same age as Kārums, but rather a year younger. Why is that? Firstly, in 1993, the unique curd snack recipe that we know today was created, along with the product name – Kārums. However, the symbol that adorned the product packaging in the first year was a ginger cat. But already in the second year of Kārums existence, there were iconic changes – the vanilla curd snack was wrapped in an orange package, and the symbol was changed to Crow.

What flavour combinations can be created?

Within the Celebrate KRĀ! campaign, it is possible to create around 200 unique curd snack flavour combinations, such as rhubarb curd snack with garden berries in strawberry glaze, Tiramisu curd snack with salted caramel filling in chocolate glaze, or pistachio curd snack with blueberries in caramel glaze. In total, there are 15 curd flavours, 15 additional ingredients, and 3 glazes available. Which flavour will win – that is absolutely in the hands of the participants. However, it is already clear that Kārums Crow will be pleasantly surprised at the end of the campaign.

Celebrate KRĀ! campaign process

The campaign to create the new curd snack will take place in three stages. The first stage will run from April 23 to June 5, during which every Kārums fan – in Latvia and abroad – is invited to create their perfect Celebrate KRĀ! curd snack on the website www.kra30.eu, honoring the Crow on its 30th anniversary.

The second stage will take place in the summer. During this time, the masters of the Food Union Fresh Dairy Excellence Center will create the recipe for the anniversary curd snack, based on the flavour and combination of ingredients that people have voted for the most. Finally, in autumn, the third or celebratory stage will take place, resulting in the launch of the new anniversary curd snack in stores across Latvia.

Ilva Veidemane, brand manager of Food Union dairy product brands: “The best surprises are the ones we plan ourselves. That’s why we invite you to surprise yourselves and choose which new curd snack we’ll put on the table for Crow’s birthday celebrations in the autumn.”

As previously reported, in April of this year, Food Union has expanded the Kārums assortment with 3 new products – banana curdsnacks, lemon, and cranberry sweet cream creams. Therefore, the brand’s range now includes 36 products. In the sweet snack category, there are six types of products – 15 curd snacks, as well as curd snack multipack, 6 sweet cream creams, 4 bifido yogurts, 2 cream yogurts, 3 curd desserts, and 2 curd creams. In addition to sweet options, buyers are also offered 3 savory Kārums – 3 fresh cheeses with and without additives.

Latvia’s most beloved food brand Kārums is making an anticipated announcement – during April, three new treats will delight consumers as they hit the shelves, expanding the variety of curd snack and sweet cream dessert categories. Leading dairy processing company in Latvia, Food Union, has invested over 50 thousand euros in the development and launch of these new products.

“A legendary randevous” – this could describe the new Kārums curd snack, featuring the taste of banana, the world’s most popular fruit. This banana curd snack is coated  in classic chocolate glaze, creating a bold and highly enjoyable flavor combination. Like all Kārums curd snacks, the new one is made according to the unique recipe created in 1993, with the main ingredient being high-quality curd, also known as cottage cheese.

Refreshing and juicy – are the words that describe the new Kārums sweet cream desserts, beloved by consumers for their airy, whipped texture. Now, these delicious desserts are also available in lemon and raspberry flavors.

Ilva Veidemane, brand manager of Food Union dairy products says: “Three new products in the Kārums lineup – it’s great news for every fan of our brand. But that’s not all! This year marks the round anniversary – 30 years since the famous Kārums crow was introduced, which means that this year we will delight Kārums lovers not only with these, but also with other delicious surprises”.

All three new products in the Kārums lineup are making their debut. Their recipes have been carefully crafted at the Fresh Dairy Excellence Center, located at the main production facility of Food Union: AS Rīgas piena kombināts in Riga, Latvia. Initially, the novelties will be available in stores across Latvia, and soon in Lithuania, Estonia, and other export markets.

Overall, Kārums offers 36 products. In the sweet snack category, there are six types of products – 15 curd snacks, as well as a curd snack multipack, six sweet cream desserts, four bifido yoghurts, two cream yoghurts, three curd desserts, and two curd creams. In addition to consumers, Kārums also offers three fresh cheeses with and without additives.

 

Latvia’s leading dairy processing and ice cream manufacturer “Food Union” for its main production facility in Latvia – “Rīgas piena kombināts” – has elected new supervisory board members. Soren Lauridsen, Executive Chairman of “Food Union” in Europe, will henceforth serve as the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, and Lincoln Pan, a Partner and Co-Head of the alternative investment company “PAG Private Equity”, will now take the seat of a Board Member.

Harijs Panke will continue his work on the board as the Vice-Chairman. Along with these changes, the former Chairman of the Board and the previous global leader and Co-Owner of the company, Andrey Beskhmelnickiy, and Board Members Soto Miguel Castellanos, Edgars Pīgoznis, Ingrīda Blūma, and Jana Kraveca, are leaving the Supervisory Board of “Rīgas piena kombināts”. The changes in the board are related to the transaction that took place in January of this year, as a result of which “PAG Private Equity” became the majority shareholder of “Food Union” in Europe.

The changes in the board reflect the changes in the group of companies in Europe after one of our previous investors, “PAG”, became the majority shareholder. Now that the deal has officially concluded and the necessary regulatory permissions have been obtained, a new, smaller Supervisory board has been elected. This change reflects the goal of achieving faster commercial growth and value generation for all involved parties. A simpler management and oversight structure at this stage of the group’s development is expected to ensure a coherent and result-oriented work according to current priorities,” notes Artūrs Čirjevskis, the CEO of “Food Union” in Europe.

As previously informed, “PAG Private Equity” is an active investor in the food industry, especially in frozen food. Recent transactions include the acquisition of two leading Australian companies in the food and consumer sector – Patties, a well known provider of savoury snack, appetiser, meal and dessert brands, and Vesco, a producer of high quality frozen foods in Australia and New Zealand. These acquisitions add to the existing “PAG” consumer product portfolio, which also includes retail franchises (Craveable Brands), chicken processing and production companies (The Cordina Group and Shandong Fengxiang Co. Ltd.) and dairy producers (Youran Dairy).

February 29, 2024, Tallinn, Estonia – Estonian Regional Minister Madis Kallas and Chancellor Marko Gorban presented ministry medals to people who have contributed to the welfare and development of agriculture and regional areas at a formal reception dedicated to the 106th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. Aivar Aus, board member and Managing Director Food Union Estonian Business Unit Premia TKH, was awarded with a certificate of appreciation and silver medal thus recognizing the good and effective work in developing Estonian legacy ice cream maker. In total, 20 people were honored with medals, 18 with silver and two with gold.

On behalf of Estonian legacy ice cream maker Premia, part of Food Union Group, we are deeply humbled and grateful for the received silver medal from the Regional and Agricultural Ministry. This recognition is not just an important recognition for Aivar Aus, our long time leader in Estonia, but most importantly for everyone at Premia who has worked tirelessly to ensure the quality and excellence of our products. It’s a testament to our collective commitment to innovation and sustainability in the food industry across markets,” said Arturs Cirjevskis, CEO at Food Union Europe.

The Estonian Regional and Agricultural Ministry medals are awarded in two categories: gold and silver. The gold medal is given for outstanding services in the development of the ministry’s governance area. The silver medal is awarded for fruitful cooperation with the ministry or successful action within the ministry, a governance area government agency, a state institution managed by the ministry, or in a field within the ministry’s governance area.

This year, the concluding phase of a large-scale investment project by Food Union, Latvia’s leading milk processing and ice cream production company, has begun. It foresees further modernization of the production processes at “Rīgas piena kombināts” and, simultaneously, optimization of manual work that has been carried out thus far. As a result, within the first half of 2024, three of the company’s busiest production lines will be supplied with new automation equipment.

The project was launched in early 2023 in cooperation with the “Lauku atbalsta dienests,” and its total value has increased to  2.7 million EUR over the course of the year. Last year, the selection of equipment suppliers within the framework of European Union was organised  by implementing public procurement processes. Currently, the majority of the equipment has already been delivered to Latvia and is being prepared for gradual assembly.

First, in the “Food Union” fresh dairy products workshop, an automatic cream cheese filling, labeling, and palletizing machine worth 440,000 EUR will be installed. This will allow to accelerate the production process of  the brand “Rasa” cream cheese, which is highly popular in Latvia and in export markets.

In addition, an automatic packaging, labeling, and palletizing machine for curd snack will be installed, valued at 701,000 EUR. It will ensure a more efficient production of this highly favoured product group amongst consumers, most recognized by buyers in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia under the name of the legendary brand “Kārums.”

Finally, an automatic ice cream packaging line valued at over 1.6 million EUR will be installed at the “Food Union” ice cream competence centre. Thanks to this, packaging of consumer beloved ice cream brands such as “Pols,” “Karlsons,” and “Ekselence” will finally become fully technology-driven, which will contribute to faster production of these products and even greater availability in stores.

Artūrs Čirjevskis, CEO of  “Food Union” group in Europe and Member of the Board of “Rīgas piena kombināts”, comments: “In a modern food production facility, everything, but most importantly, everyone has to do something that contributes to higher productivity. Production equipment must be highly automated and modern to ensure that filling, labeling, and packaging of products is not only fast but also of high quality and safe. Meanwhile, human resources should be redirected towards tasks that add higher value, such as developing new recipes, servicing technological equipment, and overseeing production processes and product quality control.”

January 17, 2024, Riga, Latvia – Food Union Europe, a leading provider of ice cream and other frozen treats to consumers in six European countries, is pleased to announce the appointment of Soren Lauridsen as the Executive Chairman of the organization, effective January 15th, 2024.

“It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Soren Lauridsen as the Executive Chairman of Food Union Europe. In this pivotal role, Soren will spearhead the pursuit of growth opportunities and operational efficiencies across the Food Union group’s diverse business units. His wealth of experience, vision, and strategic decision-making skills are going to be key assets in setting business priorities and fostering the development of talent within the organization,” said Lincoln Pan, Partner and Co-Head of Private Equity at PAG.

This newly established Executive Chairman position reflects Food Union Europe’s commitment to strategic leadership and growth. Soren Lauridsen will report directly to the Supervisory Board of Food Union Europe, while Arturs Cirjevskis, CEO of Food Europe, will report to him.

“I’m excited to return to Europe, where my professional career in FMCG begun, and particularly to joining Food Union Europe at this pivotal moment. My previous expertise lies in driving long-term business performance through strategic growth, initiative implementation, and fostering diverse, collaborative teams. I look forward to working with the talented teams across Food Union companies, contributing to their continued success. I also want to express my gratitude to our investment partners at PAG and to our Supervisory Board for their trust in this journey of growth and innovation,” added Soren Lauridsen, Executive Chairman of Food Union Europe.

With over 30 years of leadership experience spanning diverse industries, business functions, and countries, Soren Lauridsen’s background includes roles in branding, marketing, and sales within the FMCG industry, with a particular emphasis on ice cream, food, and beverage categories in leading companies in the Nordics and Poland. Since the early 2000s, he has held national and regional leadership roles in the beverages, health, and personal care industries across Asia Pacific countries. For the past 6 years, Soren has been CEO South Asia at Guardian (DFI Retail Group), a leading Health and Beauty retail chain with over 1300 beauty and health stores across Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.

 

 

 

 

PAG Private Equity, a leading global alternative investment firm, has agreed to acquire a majority controlling interest in Food Union Europe, a leading provider of ice cream and other frozen treats to consumers in six European countries. The transaction, pending final regulatory approval, was executed through the acquisition of equity from the founder and other private stakeholders. Specific financial details are not being disclosed.

“PAG Private Equity has been invested in Food Union Europe since February 2017. We believe strongly in the company’s unrivaled market position across its core markets in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Denmark, Norway and Romania. We look forward to working with the existing management to support Food Union’s continued growth and expansion,” said Lincoln Pan, Partner and Co-Head of Private Equity at PAG.

After the transaction and regulatory approval, which is expected in Q1 2024, full operational control over dairy and ice cream production and direct-to-consumer distribution enterprises in Europe will pass to PAG, an existing stakeholder and Board Member of Food Union Europe entities. These operations include brands in Latvia (Rīgas piena kombināts, Valmieras piens and Premia FFL), Estonia (Premia TKH), Lithuania (Premia KPC), Denmark (Premier Is, Hjem Is and Frast), Norway (Isbjorn Is and Den Norske Isbilen) and Romania (Alpin57Lux).

Arturs Cirjevskis, CEO of Food Union Group in Europe, and the previous general managers of the group companies will continue to manage Food Union Europe. Food Union Europe will continue to operate under its existing corporate name and business structure.

“Food Union today is a strong, resilient, and well-positioned player in regions where further growth is anticipated. This is attributed to historically developed and robust product brands and the company’s focus on product innovation. With ongoing and upcoming investments in manufacturing technologies, automation, and operational excellence in general, we anticipate further strengthening in domestic markets and exports in the coming years,” said Arturs Cirjevskis, CEO of Food Union Group in Europe.

PAG Private Equity is an active investor in the food industry, especially in frozen food. Recent transactions include the acquisition of two leading Australian companies in the food and consumer sector – Patties, a well-known provider of savoury snack, appetiser, meal and dessert brands, and Vesco, a producer of high quality frozen foods in Australia and New Zealand. These acquisitions add to the existing PAG consumer product portfolio, which also includes retail franchises (Craveable Brands), chicken processing and production companies (The Cordina Group and Shandong Fengxiang Co. Ltd.) and dairy producers (Youran Dairy).

As in every autumn-winter season, Latvia’s leading dairy processing company, “Food Union,” has created a new collection for the dessert ice cream brand “Ekselence”. Company has invested around 80 thousand euros in its development, resulting in four spoonable ice creams enriched with carefully selected ingredients, including “Riga Black Balsam.”

Girts Linins, the head of the “Food Union” ice cream brands, emphasizes, “As seasons change, so do the preferences for enjoying ice cream – and now, in the autumn-winter season, spoonable or large-volume ice creams are much more in demand. Therefore, we decided to expand the “Ekselence” range, beloved by many gourmets, with new dessert category ice creams, thus celebrating the 25th anniversary of this brand. Their flavors are inspired not only by classic pastry recipes and ingredients such as brownie and salted caramel but also by our own “Ekselence” ice cream bestsellers.”

For many years, one of Latvia’s favorite ice creams among consumers has been “Ekselence” with “Riga Black Balsam” in the large 1-liter package. To delight fans of this distinctive creamy ice cream, the company introduces two novelties. A completely new dessert ice cream “Ekselence” with “Riga Black Balsam”, cherries, and brownie pieces will now be available in a large package (1 liter). Meanwhile, the previously popular “Ekselence” ice cream with balsam and currants will be available in a new package – a 500 ml cardboard box.

A similar transformation has occurred with another favorite, the walnut and maple syrup dessert ice cream “Ekselence.” If it was previously only available in the large 1 liter package, now this flavorful ice cream will also be available in a smaller 500 ml cardboard package in grocery store freezers. Additionally, fans of the large package (1 liter) will enjoy a new sweet cream ice cream “Ekselence” with pecans and salted caramel.

In total, the “Ekselence” range currently includes 19 different ice cream varieties, available in four formats – single-serving ice creams on sticks, waffle cones, and spoonable dessert ice creams in two sizes. The most popular is the brand’s traditional value since 1998 – dessert ice creams in a 1-liter package, among which the bestsellers are walnut-flavored “Ekselence” with maple syrup and caramelized walnuts, “Ekselence” with “Riga Black Balsam” and currants, as well as the traditional vanilla ice cream.

The new “Ekselence” ice creams are available starting from November on the “Food Union” online store pienaveikals.lv, as well as in major retail chains and smaller local stores throughout Latvia.

Latvia’s leading milk processing and ice cream production company Food Union, which includes production facilities of AS Rīgas Piena Kombināts and AS Valmieras Piens, has closed 2022 with a consolidated turnover of EUR 127.8 million, which is 14.54% more than in 2021 (EUR 111.53 million). Gross profit decreased by 30.58%, from EUR 25.5 million in 2021 to EUR 17.7 million in 2022. The company’s net profit decreased from EUR 2.9 million in 2021 to a loss of EUR 4.3 million in 2022.

The increase in turnover in 2022 is attributable to rising product prices, while the decrease in profit is due to a steep increase in costs of key raw materials and energy resources, which could not be fully covered by product pricing.

“Last year, our strategically most important objective was to adapt to the new market situation, which continued to be affected by the lingering effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on supply chains, as well as the war in Ukraine launched by Russia in early 2022, which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe in the region and economic instability. Despite these challenges, Food Union continued to pursue its long-term strategy of making high value-added products in the dairy and ice cream categories, developing its e-commerce platform Pienaveikals.lv and logistics outsourcing, diversifying its export markets and the ranges of products available there, and implementing a range of sustainability and efficiency initiatives in the production and administrative procedures,” comments Food Union CEO Central Eastern Europe Sergey Beskhmelnitskiy.

In terms of product innovation, Food Union last year demonstrated its ability to flexibly adapt to the changing demand and habits of local customers. Following customer demand, Kārums resumed production of kiwi and strawberry-flavoured curd snacks, and launched brand new flavours – gummy candy and baked apples, cinnamon and cereals. Recognising customer expectations for familiar flavours and positive emotions, Food Union also relaunched the historic Zilonītis yogurt brand and launched a new Dzintars processed cheese with a chicken gyros flavour. In the dairy category, EUR 25,000 was invested in the development of two new Shake Me Up yogurt shakes for the innovative Valmiera brand range – one with cherry and banana flavours and the other with biscuit and cream flavours.

For the summer of 2022, Food Union invested around EUR 80,000 in the development of 10 new ice cream flavours to suit all tastes. At the end of the summer season, the new Jungle Pop ice pop was the most popular ice cream at shops. Food Union also invested approximately EUR 20,000 in the development of two new ice cream flavours for the Ekselence and Tio brands for the autumn season, both available in large family-oriented packaging.

Last year, the company continued successful development of its e-commerce channel Pienaveikals.lv, which has grown from an experiment in 2020 to a fully-fledged sales channel in 2021 with a turnover of over EUR 1 million. In 2022, by adapting to the new habits of customers, Pienaveikals.lv managed to attract 40% more new regular users, increase the number of products in the cart to 700 products and, as a result, almost double its turnover to EUR 1.7 million in the last financial year.

Once the war broke out, Food Union halted cooperation with companies in Russia and Belarus, and exports to Ukraine, the group’s second largest export country before the war, was temporarily interrupted. In 2022, Food Union not only returned to Ukraine with the same volumes as before the war, but also expanded its exports to other markets – Turkey, Norway, the Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and increased exports threefold to its existing markets – Poland, Moldova and Estonia. In the reporting year, Food Union exported products worth a total of EUR 35.3 million.

As reported, Food Union’s management strongly condemns the military aggression against the Ukrainian people and in 2022 made several product and financial donations, worth a total of EUR 200,000, to Ukraine and those fleeing the war who have arrived in Latvia.

As a response to the wish of Latvians for a unique Kārums combination of flavors, Latvia’s leading dairy company Food Union has in a record-short period of time developed and started production of Kārums snack specifically designed for the XXVI Nationwide Song and XVII Dance Festival. The curd snack, in which the tenderness of plombiere blends with the taste of poppy seeds so familiar since childhood, is now available at Latvia’s largest stores.

Very soon, the product chosen and produced as part of Kārums’ campaign “Put Together a Chief-curd-snack”, will be available to all singers, dancers and fans of this festival in stores across Latvia throughout the summer. Furthermore, UK-based Latvians will also be able to enjoy this special curd snack.

“Developing new products is a thoroughly thought-out process which takes several months, sometimes even a year. But this time, honoring the tradition of the Song and Dance Festival and appreciating public response to the “Put Together a Chief-curd-snack” campaign, our team put all its energy into creating the popular Kārums curd snack in a record time of less than 2 months. We are delighted that almost all retail chains have shown interest in bringing this special Kārums even to the smallest convenience shops in every corner of Latvia, ensuring a festive feeling for every foodie throughout the summer. We are also delighted about the interest of our partners in the UK – the first export shipment has already been produced and will soon be on its way to delight Latvians of the diaspora,” says Ilva Veidemane, Dairy Brand Project Manager at Food Union.

It has been reported earlier that in the spring of this year, over 30,000 participants joined the “Put Together a Chief-curd-snack” initiative, representing not only the Latvia, but also foreign countries that are home to Latvians. Of the flavor choices offered at www.virssierins.lv – 12 curd flavors, 16 optional added flavors and glazes of 3 flavors – they created 173 unique combinations of flavors. The three most popular of them – a curd snack of the plombiere flavor with poppy seeds in chocolate icing, condensed milk curd snack with condensed milk filling in caramel glaze and a rye breadcrumb curd snack with cranberries and lingonberries – took the lead already at the very start of the initiative. A fierce competition for the Supersnack title continued until the last day of voting, April 3, when the plombiere curd snack Kārums with poppy seeds in chocolate icing won the contest with nearly twice as many votes as the runner-up.

As previously reported, Food Union has also committed to catering for the participants of the Festival who will have come from the regions of Latvia and stay at schools throughout the Festival. Therefore, every participant of the Festival – dancer and choreographer, chorister and conductor, who will come to Riga in June and July to take part in rehearsals and concerts, will be able to enjoy a wide variety of fresh dairy products

The beginning of summer, quality family time in a park and a colossal amount of delicious and new ice creams at melting prices – all of this, as well as an exciting musical and cultural programme featuring performances by popular Latvian musicians, is what the inaugural Riga Ice Cream Festival will offer the public on June 10. The festival will take place from 12 noon to 9 p.m. in the very heart of the capital, Vērmane Garden. It is organized by Latvia’s leading dairy and ice cream company Food Union, while Riga City Council will take care of the cultural and musical programme. The first Riga Ice Cream Festival will close a series of events marking the International Day of Families that will take place in Riga in June.

More than 50 ice creams in one place

What ice creams will be available there? All the most popular ice creams in Latvia, including such brands as Pols, Tio, Ekselence and Jungle Pop that have been loved by generations of ice cream fans. In total, visitors will have the opportunity to taste more than 50 different ice creams from these brands, including ones they have known for a long time and brand new ice creams developed for this summer season. Furthermore, there also will be ice cream cocktails, bubble waffle ice creams and ice creams in all kinds of wafer cones, there will even be an ice cream with coffee! As usual, all the cooling delicacies, made from the highest quality milk and natural additives, are produced at the Food Union production facility in Riga and be available at particularly appealing prices.

“Ice cream is a true ambassador of summer and enjoying an ice cream is a feast in and of itself. We at Food Union want to make this summer even more special by meeting our fans, celebrating and enjoying ice cream once again, and spending quality time together with our families, friends and loved ones. What better way to do it than with ice cream made in Riga, and in one of the most beautiful parks in Riga, Vērmane Garden! We invite all residents of Riga, guests of the city and all those who love ice creams to meet at the first Riga Ice Cream Festival on June 10,” says Ieva Lejniece, Marketing Manager and Member of the Board a Food Union in Latvia.

Creative children’s workshops, recreation for young people and entertainment for parents

The first Riga Ice Cream Festival will delight visitors not only with a broad range of ice creams, but also with free entertainment for all ages and tastes. There will be a special Tio “cocktail zone” with a children’s park, featuring relay races, dexterity challenges and a chef’s workshop for the smallest ones. In the meantime, the tropical Jungle Pop “jungle tent zone” will welcome those who like face painting and mask making. The more active children and teenagers will appreciate entertainment programme of the Pols “refreshment zone”, which will include not only the challenge of making an ice sculpture, but also an inflatable polar bear and a ball pit. Of course, there will also be a special recreational area for adults: the elegant Ekselence cafe, where they will have the opportunity to enjoy ice cream desserts with a cup of delicious coffee in a calmer atmosphere.

A great musical programme

Riga Municipality will provide an impressive cultural and musical programme at the Vērmane Garden. The musical programme will continue from 12 noon to 9 p.m., featuring performances by children’s dance collective Teiksmiņa and musical ensemble Knīpas un Knauķi, and the concert will close with performances by BŪŪ, PRUSAX, Citi Zēni and Carnival Youth.

 

Did you know that the first heralds of summer are ice creams with new flavours, which are already filling store freezers? Just like every year, Latvia’s leading dairy company Food Union has been thoroughly preparing for this coming summer season, developing a brand new, amazingly tasty collection of ice creams. The new range includes nine Pols and Jungle Pop ice creams, which are very popular with consumers, and more than EUR 85,000 has been invested in the development and launch of the ice creams.

The hottest ice cream trends

“In the development of new products, we follow the hottest ice cream trends at the moment so that every sweet tooth, be it adults or children, could find their new favourite ice cream or even several ice creams this summer. Ice cream recipes with nostalgic and heart-warming flavours of childhood treats, such as marmalade and waffles, are particularly relevant at the moment. Dairy-free ice creams, including juice ice creams, have already found their place in the market. Oddly-shaped ice creams are back in fashion again, with expressive glazed caps or wrapped around a stick. Finally, environmentally-friendly packaging, along with ingredients of the highest quality, has become integral to added value of ice cream brands,” says Ieva Lejniece, Food Union Marketing Manager and Member of the Board in Latvia.

Classic fruits, expressive glaze and sustainable packaging

A summer walk, a trip to the beach or sitting by a fountain in a park – all of this will be remembered more vividly when you eat one of Latvia’s most legendary ice cream brands Pols, which will now be available in three new different versions. Two new Pols ice creams (in 100 g packaging) have been created for ice cream lovers: Banana and Chocolate, and Crunchy Strawberry. Both are available in a large wafer cone and have the characteristic pointed and crispy chocolate glaze cap. And there is also a new Pols on a stick, a strawberry-flavoured ice cream in bright-red strawberry glaze (70 g), created especially for this summer.

It is important to note that the new Pols ice creams are available in sustainable packaging made with 50% organic materials. Therefore, by choosing these products in stores, consumers help to reduce the amount of plastic waste in nature and carbon emissions caused by the production of plastic.

Polar bear’s greetings to families

You can never have too much Pols ice cream, which is why a new, family-sized format has been added to the range of this always relevant brand: ice cream in an 800 ml tub, convenient to keep in the freezer and eat with a spoon. The ice cream is available in three dessert flavours – Pols Jelly Candy, an ice cream made of cream with blackcurrant sauce, marmalade flavour and jelly candies, Pols Waffle Crisps – cream and vanilla ice cream with nougat sauce and crunchy chocolate bits, and Pols Crunchy Chocolate – cream biscuit-flavoured ice cream with milk chocolate-flavoured filling and wafer bits.

These Pols ice creams also come in sustainable packaging, which can be sorted and is 100% recyclable. Furthermore, these plastic tubs can be reused, thus reducing the environmental footprint.

 Jungle flavours on a stick

Tropical ice cream brand Jungle Pop presents three new ice creams on a stick. Vegans will appreciate a refreshing ice cream with apple lemonade flavour (60 ml). In addition, Jungle Pop for the first time offers two double-flavoured milk ice creams: one is a combination of greenish pineapple and yellow banana-flavoured ice creams made of cream, and the other one has pink watermelon and light yellow melon-flavoured ice cream on a stick (80 ml).

All new ice cream recipes have been created by local ice cream professionals at the Food Union Ice Cream Competence Centre in Riga, and they are primarily meant for the Latvian market. However, some of the new Pols and Jungle Pop ice creams will soon be exported to Lithuania, Romania, Great Britain, Uzbekistan, Ireland, Iraq and Poland.

The new ice creams are already available at Food Union online store www.pienaveikals.lv, as well as in largest retail chains and smaller convenience stores across Latvia. During May, there will be even more new products at stores popular with Latvian customers.

 

Latvia’s leading dairy company Food Union has won five awards in two countries in the 2022 study of the most successful new products in the Baltic countries, carried out by international market and consumer research company NielsenIQ. Strawberry curd snack Kārums is ranked first among Latvia’s best new products in 2022.

Ieva Lejniece, Marketing Manager and Member of the Board at Food Union in Latvia: “Development of new products is a very exciting and at the same time complicated process, during which specialists from our Centre of Excellence for Fresh Dairy Products and Ice Cream Competence Centre work to combine three different worlds: the latest food trends, consumer wishes, and technological innovations. That is why the success in the NielsenIQ study is particularly important to us because this is, first of all, a great compliment to our team and, second, a confirmation of our commitment to consumers – to produce delicious, surprising and innovative dairy products and ice creams.”

Two awards in the milk category, one in the ice cream category

Significantly, the best new dairy product in Latvia was the Kārums curd snack, which in 2022 returned to the range of curd snacks produced by “Food Union” in a new vibe after persistent request from consumers. Namely, the first place went to Kārums strawberry curd snack, which was also named the top best new product in Latvia. On the other hand, Pols ice cream in a large waffle cone with chocolate crisps placed first among the best new ice creams in Latvia last year.

Both products are made at Food Union’s main production facility Rīgas Piena Kombināts, located at 180 Bauskas Street in Riga.

2 awards in Estonia

Food Union also recived awards in Estonia, where it is represented by group company Premia THK. Rhubarb ice cream of the Estonian brand Eriti Rammus recived  first place in the ice cream category and third on the list of all best new products.

With healthy lifestyles and various diet plans gaining popularity, Latvia’s leading dairy company Food Union has invested 90,000 euros in the development of its most functional brand Lakto. This has resulted in the creation of a truly unique product category – the first fermented dairy product line in Latvia, Lakto Imuno lactose-free and contains 20 billion lactic acid bacteria. The composition of the new products has also been enriched with immunity and energy boosting vitamins A, B6, B12 and D.

The recipe of the lactose-free dairy product Lakto Imuno has been developed by leading food technologists from the Food Union’s Center of Excellence for Fresh Milk Products in Riga. The product is made at the company’s specialized production plant Valmieras Piens in Valmiera. It still is a Lakto product, highly valued by consumers and medical specialists and rich in valuable bacteria. But now, thanks to the improved recipe the product contains no lactose, therefore Lakto Imuno can be used by an even wider range of consumers – including adults and children with lactose intolerance.

For immunity and energy

The lactose-free fermented dairy products of the Lakto Imuno line are available with four natural fruit and berry flavors – pomegranate, mango, raspberry-bilberry, and strawberry-rhubarb. The products of this line contain 20 billion lactic acid bacteria, which stimulate the activity of the digestive system. Vitamins A, B6, B12 and D, which are essential for immunity, provide an additional nutritional value.

The products come packed in small 100 g bottles, and each portion is quite lean- just 62 calories and 8.5 g of sugar per 100 g of product. Importantly – the composition of Lakto Imuno ingredients is consistent with the internationally recognized nutritional value labeling Nutri Score B, which means that these lactose-free fermented dairy products have high and balanced nutritional value, so they can be consumed on a day-to-day basis.

“By creating the innovative Lakto Imuno line, we have taken a significant step not only for our company but also for the entire Latvian food industry. We are glad that these new drinks are not only in line with modern nutritional trends but also delicious. Anyone, be it young moms, kids, people always busy with work or active sporting people, who want to include lactose-free products on their menu, will be able to find their favorite flavor to take a dose of “healthy immunity”,” says Ilona Jaroša, Dairy Brand Manager at Food Union.

The new lactose-free fermented dairy drinks Lakto Imuno are already available at Food Union’s online store www.pienaveikals.lv, Latvia’s largest retail chains Maxima, Rimi, Mego, Narvesen, Lats, Beta, Aibe, Elvi, Top! and Spar, as well as smaller convenience shops.