NOKIA, FINLAND — European super premium pet food manufacturer VAFO Group officially opened its first production facility in Finland. According to the company, the facility is the largest of its kind in the country.

VAFO originally announced the facility in November 2022 and construction finished earlier this year. In March the facility began its test operation. The company invested more than €16 million ($17.2 million USD) in the facility.

The new plant will be operated by VAFO’s subsidiary Prima Pet Premium, which will allow the company to bring its Hau-Hau Champion brand back to the local Finnish market. The factory spans 3,000 square meters (about 32,292 square feet) of floorspace and includes an additional 300 square meters (about 3,229 square feet) of warehouse space. It also includes a unique packaging line, in which machines produce pet food bags from recyclable films.

The facility boasts an extensive solar panel system, is fully compatible with biogas and leverages a sustainable production approach, making it one of the most sustainable pet food production facilities in Finland, according to VAFO.

“A sustainable approach to business is part of VAFO Group’s identity, and consumers in Finland attach great importance to it,” said Timo Pärssinen, chief executive officer of Prima Pet Premium. “Sustainable production was a key criterion even in the planning stages of the new factory. Among other things, we can now resume domestic production of the popular Finnish brand Hau-Hau Champion, the best-selling pet food in the local market, which is 100% carbon neutral and, until now, was produced in the Czech Republic. It’s also great to be able to participate in the development of the regional economy and employment; moreover, now we’re in a better position to respond to consumer demand for domestic, locally produced pet foods.”

According to the company, the Finnish facility furthers its position in the Nordic pet food market, which is estimated to be worth €600 million ($645.6 million).

“The pet food business is in good shape despite the difficult global situation; it truly is a recession-proof sector,” Pärssinen said. “Pets are increasingly seen as equal members of the family, and their food isn’t the first thing on the list when consumers want to save. It’s as much an essential item in the shopping basket as food for the other members of the family.”

VAFO expects the facility to begin running at full capacity in 2025. The company also believes the factory will make a significant positive impact on Finland, as it will use domestic raw materials from Finnish suppliers. Additionally, 80% of raw materials will be sourced within 100 kilometers of the plant.  

“Thanks to the largest pet food production plant in Finland, Prima Pet Premium now has the opportunity to offer production capacity to those interested in creating their own private brands,” Pärssinen said. “And it all comes with a guarantee of the most sustainable method of production.”

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