Since the shelves are filled with hundreds of unique meat products, making the right choice is complicated. How can you find meat products that are delicious and healthy and can be prepared quickly?
“Everyone has probably been in a situation where they go to the shop to purchase meat and are overwhelmed by the options,” explains Irina Tamme, Fitlap’s nutritionist. “But not all meat products are high quality: producers use bone meat mass and artificial flavour enhancers, often the meat has a high fat content. At the same time, obesity is becoming an increasingly big issue, especially among children.”
Nõo Meat Factory’s Sales and Marketing Specialist Arthur Taavet states that Nõo launches around 20-30 products seasonally. If we also count other meat producers, over 100 new names are added seasonally. “We can’t expect consumers to read every product’s components and calories,” Taavet remarks and adds that Fitlap’s product, whose blue design can be recognised from afar, will help people out here.
Although the healthy eating guidelines recommend making food at home, Taavet has observed that people’s pace of life is becoming faster, thus they don’t have time to cook at home.
“By designing healthier and tastier options, we hope to improve the situation where Estonian families consume food made from very poor produce or bought from a fast-food place,” Taavet explains.
The recommendation label has to be earned
Nõo and Fitlap’s cooperation is long-term and stands out on the shelves. Therefore, many ask what this cooperation look like? Who creates the recipes? How long does the preparation of the product take? Does Fitlap produce something themselves?
Irina Tamme stresses that Fitlap is not a food manufacturer or processer; instead, their role is to offer professional diet plans and food-related knowhow. “Our diet plans are suitable for the entire family, both for weight-losers and weight-lifters, young and old,” Tamme explains. We have over 1000 recipes.
A shopper can recognise the product, whether it is a dairy product, oats or meat, by Fitlap’s blue label. Obviously not everyone can receive the recommendation label: to earn the label, the product has to meet the high standards of Fitlap, which are natural components and a low energy content.
“Consumers trust the label a lot – the increased sales numbers prove that,” Tamme adds.
Arthur Taavet notes that there is a tendency for meat producers to display messages on their packages or advertisements claiming that the product has low calories and is healthy.
“Oftentimes, it is not true,” he explains. “Approval by Fitlap is almost like an external control, which shows it is not a product made up by our marketing team but has been truly thoroughly inspected.”
A good recipe takes several months
Taavet attests that they did not have to change their products much in order to work with Fitlap. “From the beginning, Nõo Meat Factory has followed one very restrictive principle: we don’t use bone meat or poultry MSM in our products,” Taavet remarks. “We only produce what we would like to eat ourselves and serve to our families. This got us halfway to meeting the high standards of Fitlap.”
They design the new products together. “We try a variety of recipes, bounce ideas off of each other and give each other feedback,” Taavet explains. “It can often take several months to reach a solution with which both parties are satisfied. We need to consider many factors, such as price, storage life, calories, protein content and of course taste.”
Where a typical partnership between a food producer and Fitlap involves getting a small Fitlap label, Nõo decided it to take it one step further.
“Basically, we design new products from scratch together, which also have the distinguishable blue packaging,” Taavet remarks. “We don’t mind that Nõo’s brand is less visible than Fitlap’s because our objective is to make the healthier choice more visible.”
In addition to their wish to offer low-calorie, high-quality and healthy meat products, Nõo and Fitlap are both Estonia’s largest domestic capital-based company in their respective fields.