“I want to work where the products are actually made and where I can influence the development of beverages”
Having worked with product development and quality matters in the food and alcohol industry for years, Laura Koivisto joined Altia in 2017 as product development manager. Her main job is to develop beverage recipes for entirely new product ranges and to introduce new flavours to existing ones.
“I want to work where the products are actually made and where I can most influence the development of beverages through my own know-how”, says Laura of her reasons for joining Altia.
Product development is long-term work, although it is also necessary to react rapidly to new trends. Laura works with all beverage product groups, from non-alcoholic beverages to spirits and, in terms of preparation methods, from those based on wines to those with a grain-spirit base. Her main job is to develop beverage recipes for entirely new product ranges and to introduce new flavours to existing ones.
“I love my job. It’s very varied and includes wonderful sensations related to flavours and experiences. Alcoholic beverages are not staple foods, but meant for moments that are special in some way, which is why you can also add a touch of imagination to the development work”, says Koivisto.
“The drinks industry has a lot of funny stories and classic products, often related to a country’s history, such as Blossa glögg or aquavits in Sweden and Jaloviina and Koskenkorva in Finland. I’m especially proud of the fact that the raw material of our spirits-based drinks has been distilled from Finnish barley and that the production is carried out in Finland. We also produce most of the spice distillates and extracts of our drinks at our Rajamäki plant, so the production chain is easy to picture”.
At Altia, the work of product developers consists of a variety of product development projects, of which there are several underway at any one time.
“The average time it takes for the final product to be finished and on the store shelves after the very first development thought is a year, but it also varies a lot. In cask-matured products, the projects may last even a few years, whereas the shortest projects regarding ready-to-drink, or RTD, beverages don’t last for more than a few months. Of the low-alcohol RTDs found in retail stores, I’ve been involved in the development of Chill Out Spritzers, for example, and Koskenkorva Vichys”.
“Of course product development is more just than the development of entirely new products and flavours. We also update the recipes of existing products, select spices for glöggs and follow any amendments made to food legislation”.
“As a product developer, I don’t fall in love with products – I’m very pragmatic”, says Laura Koivisto when asked about her strengths.
“After all, developing new products that never make it as far as the store shelves is also part of this work”.
The five-person product development team is made up of Altia employees working in Finland and Sweden.
“We collaborate a lot with other Altia teams too, such as the marketing, consumer insight, quality, production and package design teams. A finished product, after all, is a combination of the right kind of bottle and label in addition to a quality drink. It’s all these aspects together that give the consumer the experience we want to create according to their needs”, Koivisto says.
“As a food and drink enthusiast, I’m willing to taste anything. But although I like to experiment with new flavours, I’ve also learned to know my own tastes, of course. I’m particularly partial to glöggs as a winter drink and I always prepare my own glögg before Christmas. It’s nice to try out different recipes at home, too. I’m also fond of mature red wines and old ports. Champagne is part of my celebrations, and my favourite cocktail is Cosmopolitan. I’ve also had the chance to develop a ready-to-drink version of Cosmopolitan, which is now available on store shelves”.