Finland has a long tradition of food research and it has received recognition both nationally and internationally. Finnish food research is multidisciplinary, covering all areas from 'farm to table'. In addition, well-established biotechnology and nutrition research extends it further from 'table to gut'.
Research is conducted in departments located at various universities, in research institutes, and polytechnics. Here you can find a description of the the key areas of food research in Finland. To find out at which institutes a specific research topic is examined, please use the Search-function on the upper corner.
Key areas of research
Nutrition, wellbeing and consumer sciences
Finnish high-level nutrition research has benefited experts worldwide in their drafting of nutrition recommendations. Finland is known as a forerunner in functional food research and developing. The Finnish school catering system and know-how in concepts promoting public health are also known internationally. Research is grounded in the physiological, biochemical, clinical and public health sciences aimed at enhancing health, and preventing and treating diseases. Nutritional epidemiology, nutrigenomics, qualitative research, human medicine, life cycle nutrition, chronic disease, and consumer behaviour are major components of activity in this research area.
Bioprocessing and technology
Bioprocessing and technology is a large research field among food sciences in Finland, both in terms of human resources and funding. Finnish food technology research aims to develop tasty and high-quality food products using enzyme and structure technologies. Food chemistry research is focused on analysis of nutrients and other health-related substances such as natural antioxidants and phenolic compounds. Understanding the behaviour and interaction of food components/materials at the fundamental level is a prerequisite to development of foods with desired functional properties.
Food safety, microbiology and diagnostics
An important subfield within food and nutritional sciences focuses on microorganisms and detection of their presence and/or activity. Considerable attention is given to their exploitation for the purpose of adding to the quality and conservation of raw materials, such as occurs in food fermentations. Increased attention is being given to microbial diversity and activity in the human gastrointestinal tract and its modulation by probiotic microbes and prebiotic compounds. Elimination of food spoilage or pathogenic microbes is of crucial importance throughout the entire food chain and is increasing in relevance in view of consumer demands for minimally processed foods. The level of Finnish food safety is recognized exceptionally high. The rapid developments in microbial genomics have potential to drive further innovations.
Food Ecology and Sustainability
Food accounts for one-third of the environmental impact of Finnish consumers - the same as traffic and housing. Food ecology research aims to promote the eco-efficiency, sustainability, responsibility and competitiveness of the Finnish food chain and its parties, and to support decision-making processes. The key methods of food chain sustainability assessment and development include life cycle analyses and other methods of environmental impact assessment, system modellings and analyses as well as scenario approaches. These are applied to food chains, agricultural production and the production and use of bioenergy, as well as the utilisation of food sector by-products. Research focussing on the environmental impacts of "the food basket" develops methods and indicators for the assessment of the environmental impacts of households.