Lapuan Peruna is a company that produces potato starch for paper industry and has actively sought solutions to utilize by-products from the production process.
Lapuan Peruna is a small company who faced the difficulty of investigating to traditional ways of concentrating fruit juice as it would be unprofitable and impossible. The company processes approximately 70 000 tons of potatoes every year, which means 16 000 tons of starch every year. Thus the company have had to be innovative in finding ways to process the fruit juice that is the main by-product of starch-making process (approximately 70 % of the processes potatoes).
The solution has been found in testing the evaporation equipment left out by the near by milk processing plant. The testing sought out to be successful and now the by-product flows from the starch-making process are used more efficiently. Fruit juice that was earlier used as liquid fertilizer is now concentrated and can be used as animal feed. This has also meant less need for storage space and less heavy transportation between the factory and the farmers’ fields. In the process the water vapour is condensated back to water and partly used to wash the potatoes. Their new evaporation equipment is also bought from the old milk processing factory and thus recycled.
The investments for the evaporation equipment were all together 2.2 million EUR. Three employees have been in charge of the project. During installation process around 10 employees from contracting companies worked with the project. In the product development process 5 employees have been involved.
Evidence of success
The earlier fruit juice that was used as a fertilizer cost the company for 200 000 euros per year. Now these costs have been cut to zero and that money can be spent to reduce the investment expenses. The side-products (animal feed and more concentrated fertilizer) have not been realized yet, but are estimated to bring incomes for the company.
One of the obstacles during the product development process has been the high consistency of the salt (kalium) in the potatoes, which restricts the use of feed.
Potential for learning or transfer
Lapuan Peruna is also a good example of small company that has successfully found financing from national and European level funding instruments. They are one of the first companies in Finland to receive funding guarantee from the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI).By the financial guarantee they were able to buy the new evaporation equipment. They have also received funding for their research project from a nutrients recycling program run by the Finnish Ministry of Environment, which has helped them to develop their new products (animal feed).