In cooperation with the University of Tartu, Enterprise Estonia and the Estonian School Nutrition Association, Nõo Meat Factory launched a youth-targeted healthy product series to fight obesity and address healthy and balanced eating.
As part of Enterprise Estonia’s program Design Masterclass, Nõo Meat Factory’s product developers worked together with a team from the University of Tartu to create a product series whose aim is to reduce young people’s obesity and solve issues related to unhealthy food consumption. The Estonian School Nutrition Association and many secondary schools joined the Nõo initiative. The young people were involved in the process from the beginning and approved the final result.
“Statistics reveal the sad reality that people’s poor lifestyles are the cause of around half of the deaths,” remarks Arthur Taavet, Project Manager of Nõo Meat Factory. “Every fourth death is caused by an unhealthy diet, which manifests itself as diabetes, cardiovascular and joint diseases. Health issues emanating from unhealthy eating have surpassed those caused by tobacco, alcohol, and lack of exercise. There are twice as many overweight adults as there was the turn of the century. Every third young person is overweight. 90% of overweight youth continue to be overweight as adults because changing their eating habits, later on, is significantly more complicated. Physical activity solves only 5% of the problem – the core of the issue is poor diet. The prospects are catastrophic; as domestic food industry, we are obviously determined to change this trend.”
Nõo Meat Factory thoroughly mapped with the young people which choices are generally at arms length to young consumers; what their consumption habits, wishes and preferences are. “We interviewed young people, presented to them and tested various options, we constantly let them try the products and asked what a reasonable price would be. We found out that only energy drink manufacturers keep the age group of 12-24 years in mind. We learned from this realisation. We learned that we need to focus on the high meat content of the products and environmentally friendly production methods. To a lesser extent, we also considered the size of the packaging.”
You can find the youth series’ products by the Estonian School Nutrition Association’s emblem and the green label. The series includes four products, including meat strips, wavy ham cuts and snack sausages made of broiler meat with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Taavet adds that they also completed the final package design in cooperation with the University of Tartu, with whom they conducted eye-tracking experiments and measurements. “There is a misconception among youth that meat is not healthy,” he notes. “Simultaneously, the Estonian School Nutrition Association sees shortcomings in the meat and protein consumption of young people. There is an easy explanation: unfortunately, if we look at the most commonly bought products, they do not have the highest meat content and they might not be the healthiest. We wish to contribute to the selection of nutritional food with our products.”
“During product development, all of our largest retail chains expressed that the market has lacked a healthy youth-targeted food selection,” explains Chair of the Supervisory Board Simmo Kruustük. “However, most important is young people’s approval of the product series and the taste as well as recognition of our healthy approaches by the association, which is dedicated to guaranteeing the quality of food in schools. We would like to expand our concepts to other countries.”
Nõo Meat Factory is the largest and most innovative domestic capital-based meat industry, which won Family Enterprise of the Year 2021, a competition organised by Enterprise Estonia, the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce and the Estonian Employers’ Confederation. Nõo Meat Factory’s selection features over 400 award-winning meat products. Nõo Meat Factory has 200 employees, which makes it one of the biggest employers in South Estonia. They pay particular attention to developing high-quality products and have initiated the innovative Meat Hackathon with leaders of the food industry and the Estonian University of Life Sciences.