Tuomo Tupasela, senior scientist specialized in food products, knows the field, the process, the product and the consumer. From the beginning of 2018, he will have a box seat for observing European organic production as the only Nordic member of the Expert Group for Technical Advice on Organic Production (EGTOP) of the European Commission.
You are a researcher specialized in food products, especially dairy technology, and an expert in sensory evaluation and quality of food products. What does your work consist of?
”I am responsible for the product development plant and the laboratory for sensory evaluation in Jokioinen, Finland. I also do organoleptic research with different raw materials. The raw materials include milk, cereals, berries and vegetables.
My work is close to the business interface. We visit our industry partners to discuss how we could possibly help them. We offer and search for solutions in cooperation with the customer, and, as a result, we get different products and recipes, for example. Luke has participated in the development of the Omega-3 eggs, for example.”
“Luke also offers solutions for utilizing raw material side streams. The starting point is to use everything as fully as possible and to minimize the amount of waste ending up in landfills. When needed, we even help our partners with obtaining financing and reporting.”
From the beginning of 2018, you will be a member of the EGTOP of the European Commission. What is your own role in the group?
”The group will function as a technical and advisory expert body supporting decision-making pertaining to organic production. In addition to expertise in sensory evaluation and quality, I have competence in food technology. I have a lot to give especially on the subject of what organic processing is and what it could be in the future. Consumption of organic food is increasing in Europe, and the Commission has to be able to respond to growing production. EGTOP is about expertise, not about politics.”
“I base my work on the expertise of the Finnish Organic Research Institute and its wide network of experts. I am also a member of the scientific advisory committee of the Finnish Organic Research Institute. My appointment is also based on Luke’s wide research organisation, the organic expertise of which is internationally recognized.”
According to the new strategy of IFOAM EU, an interest group for the organic sector in Europe, half of Europe’s farmland will have been converted to organic farming by 2030. In your opinion, in what direction should organic production be taken in Europe?
”At the moment, production within the EU is most likely not enough to cover the increasing demand. Originally, organic production was small-scale production. The current trend is that the size of farms and production volumes are growing, and organic production cannot be left outside this trend. If the market changes, also organic production must change. The aim is to have sufficient own supply to cover the demand.”
“The definition of organic goes far beyond legislation, and there are differences in national definitions. In addition, there are dimensions that are not necessarily always discussed: Should an organic product always be locally produced, what is the environmental impact of an organic product like in industrial production? Should even the social responsibility aspect of production be taken into consideration? There are no clear statutory limits for all aspects.”