Jakobstad-based Snellman has always been at the forefront of meat processing. At the beginning of the decade, it became the first food industry company to end the use of monosodium glutamate in all of its products. Later, the company developed a completely additive-free sausage. The latest addition to Snellman’s product range continues the line of more natural products with less additives. In launching the new Superior sliced meat products in 2017, Snellman also introduced a new quality
category for sliced meat in Finland.
“We examined the French meat processing quality criteria and thought that they should also be used in Finland. Superior ham is the only Finnish product that meets the requirements for their highest category called superiéur. Hence the name for our new ham,” says Product Management Manager Kai Meyer at Snellman.
According to Meyer, the entire product development process was guided by the project team’s strong desire to develop a sliced meat of exceptional quality. Thus, the people at Snellman worked long and hard on the development of Superior ham.
“Creating this product required a lot of effort in research and development. We travelled throughout Europe to learn new production methods and later to have our Superior ham sampled by leading industry experts. Superior ham can therefore be described as a result of international cooperation. We got very close to launching the product several times, but delayed the launch as we concluded that it hadn’t yet met our stringent new criteria. It took four years before the ham was perfected to the point where we were delighted to put it on store shelves,” Meyer says.
Meyer won’t reveal the recipe that was created in the development process, but assures us that it is completely different compared to regular sliced meats. Preparing the Superior ham takes two weeks to ensure that the end result is succulent and tender – achieved naturally and without using any added phosphate, of course.
“Many sliced meat products use added phosphate to absorb fluid from the meat and to tenderise it. Superior is made completely without added phosphate or other ingredients that are commonly used to replace it, such as fibres. Also, we never use diced meat, but instead always slice the ham from whole steaks. The Superior quality demands a lot of the raw materials, and only around 30 per cent of the meat that we receive meets the specific high requirements for making this ham,” Meyer says.
According to Snellman, the result is a near-perfect ham, and judging by its reception, the consumers seem to agree. In less than a year, Superior has entered the Top 15 list of best-selling ham products in Finland, which is uncommon for new product launches. According to Meyer, there is always a market for pure and well-made products, since people are increasingly meticulous about what they eat.
“Simpler recipes allow people to know what they are putting in their mouths. The Superior products meet the needs of consumers who do not want to eat processed food. We want to set an example for the entire meat processing industry on a national level. Our goal is to make products that suit the Finnish taste and that are high enough in quality to perform well in the international market. Ultimately, it simply requires ordinary hams that have been made a little better than before.”