Respecting the environment and using natural resources sustainably in all phases of food production and consumption is the responsibility of all of us. At Atria, we consider it important to reduce our own direct environmental impact and we require our partners to operate in an environmentally responsible way. Atria is most able to make a difference in terms of its energy and water consumption, while also preventing material and food waste.
What choices can individual consumers make if they want to consume in an environmentally friendly way? All food production affects the environment and these effects vary depending on the type of production, farming methods, farm efficiency and business environment. The best food choice that consumers can make in terms of the environment is to buy food from their own country. By favouring Finnish meat production, the environmental impact is local and, as such, we can take responsibility for the environmental effects of our own food supply instead of outsourcing them to countries in which environmental matters are not necessarily resourced in the same manner or subject to the legislative limitations that exist in Finland.
From an environmental perspective, why should food be produced in Finland?
Finland's northern location provides certain environmental benefits. For example, we are in a favourable position in terms of the amount of water consumed during production. As regards groundwater, Finland is completely self-sufficient and the water is of high quality. Finland is among the most water-rich countries in the world (UNEP 2015).
The cold climate reduces the prevalence of pests by slowing down their reproduction and preventing species that cannot survive the winter from spreading to our country and forming permanent populations. Thanks to the climate conditions, Finland has lower plant disease pressure and, therefore, the need for substances to protect plants is below average. Pesticides are mostly used to combat weeds.
Finland also has clean soil by international standards. This is partly due to the natural properties of the soil and partly because harmful activities caused by industrial and population centres are much lower per square kilometre than in more densely populated countries.
Food production and consumption is expected to increase significantly in the future due to population growth. Climate change will cause the farming limits in Finland to move further north, growing seasons to become longer and harvests to improve in forthcoming decades. Conversely, farming conditions closer to the equator will become less favourable as the climate warms, water resources become more scarce and the soil loses nutrients. As such, Finland's responsibility for food production will only increase in the future.
Source: Arktinen ruuantuotanto, Luke 2015.