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3.5.4 Lapuan Peruna

Lapuan Peruna is a company that produces potato starch for the paper industry. The production plant is located in the same premises as Chemigate Ltd., who is the only buyer for their starch. Chemigate Ltd. produces modified starches for industrial applications and a range of cationic starch based polymers in liquid form. Lapuan Peruna processes approximately 70 000 tons of potatoes every year, which lead to 16 000 tons of starch every year. The company gets its potatoes from approximately 150 local contract farmers.

The main by-product of the starch making process is fruit juice that counts approximately 70 % from the processed potatoes. Earlier the fruit juice was sold and used as fertilizer for the fields nearby in a liquid form. This has been quite impractical since liquids are hard to store and transport. By investigating new ways to process the fruit juice and investing new evaporation equipment they have been able to concentrate the fruit juice in a form that can be sold as protein feed for pigs and for other animals. This has been successful and provided new business opportunities for the company as well.

Due to the relatively small size of the company, investigating in traditional ways of concentrating the fruit juice would have been unprofitable and impossible. Thus the company had to find innovative ways to process the fruit juice, it was done by testing the evaporation equipment that was left out of use at the nearby milk processing plant.

Lapuan Peruna is also a good example of a small company that has successfully seeked financing at national and European 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 a research project from a nutrients recycling program run by the Finnish Ministry of Environment, which has helped them to develop their new product (animal feed).

The by-product 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 led to a decrease in the need for storage space and also less heavy transportation between the factory and the farmers’ fields.

During the process the water vapour is condensated back to water and used to wash the potatoes. Their new evaporation equipment is also bought from the old milk processing factory and thus recycled.