FINLAND – Fazer Group, a Finland-based company, is set to adjust its plant-based dairy production due to a perceived “slowdown” in the growth of the plant-based category.

The company is currently engaged in discussions with staff representatives regarding potential production streamlining at its facilities in Sweden and Finland.

Fazer is contemplating a strategic shift, with plans to designate its Tingsryd factory in Sweden as the center for oat drink production.

Simultaneously, the Koria facility in Finland would focus on producing oat-based alternatives to yogurt. These proposed changes could impact 133 employees, with the potential termination of 93 permanent positions in Finland.

In recent years, Fazer has been actively expanding its presence in the plant-based dairy sector. In 2021, the company acquired the Tingsryd site when it purchased the Sweden-based oat-drink producer Trensums Food.

Two years prior, Fazer acquired Kaslink, a Finnish family-owned company based in Koria.As part of this restructuring, Fazer’s Koria facility would be tasked with exporting its products to international markets.

Earlier this year, Fazer had already announced its intention to exit the dairy category, including the discontinuation of milk product production at the Koria plant, resulting in the shedding of 82 employees.

While acknowledging that demand for plant-based products has “steadily increased” over the past decade, Fazer cited heightened competition, a “slowdown in consumption growth,” and increased production capacity in Europe as contributing factors to the current challenges in the sector.

Despite this slowdown, the company expressed optimism, noting that the consumption of plant-based products is “expected to grow” in the coming years.

“Our two factories have different profiles. In Koria, we have great capabilities and know-how to produce high-quality oat-based yogurts, whereas, in Tingsryd, we have decades of experience and very efficient and streamlined processes to produce oat drinks on a large scale,” Kati Rajala, VP of plant-based drinks at Fazer, stated.

“With these changes, we would be able to increase the focus in both factories and secure our competitiveness also in the future.”

Rajala further emphasized the growth potential in Finland for Fazer Aito yogurts, with the company already holding approximately 20% market share.

Fazer sees promising international growth prospects for yogurt products, with the Koria factory well-positioned to meet this demand, thanks to its highly skilled personnel and state-of-the-art facilities.

Fazer, with a workforce of more than 6,000 people, exports its products to over 40 markets. In 2022, the company reported net sales of €1.1 billion and an EBITDA of €101.4 million.

The company had previously announced job cuts in its domestic bakery division to invest in “trendy” rye bread and adjusted its investment plans for a Finnish confectionery factory due to economic volatility and potential domestic sugar taxes.