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Grows big with sprouts and innovation

Down to earth, but at the same time innovative and innovative. Norske Spirer had not managed to survive in Oslo, but has grown to become the market leader in sprouts from the location on the family farm in Nord-Odal.

Company: Norske Spirer AS


- We are a simple company, and work primarily to create natural growth. As beekeepers in general, we are careful and do not want to take too much risk, and rather focus on creating a safe, stable and good workplace, explains Jon Kristofer Skinstad (32), who runs Norske Spirer together with his five year older brother , Carl Magnus.

Nevertheless, it is a fact that the company has grown so large that it now has 18 employees, can report an annual turnover increase of over 10 percent, has acquired both competitors and customer lists, and owns its own brand. In addition, the company has invested heavily in equipment, and works for even safer and more secure products with Innovation Norway behind it.

- We have a large, sound customer group that among others includes Bama and Coop, and are now looking forward to put up another new building on the farm, says Skinstad.

Receives praise from Innovation Norway

Healthy and safe diet has become more and more important for Norwegian consumers in recent years, something Norske Spirer has also noticed well. Especially organic food is in demand.

- After we switched to almost all-organic production 3-4 years ago, we have become the market leader in sprouts. What used to be a niche market has also now become a general trend.

- What characterizes organic goods is the quality. We believe we are able to deliver an even better offer with organic products, says Skinstad.
Innovation Norway has also highlighted the collaboration with Norske Spirer and the ecological perspective in its marketing, which clearly shows pride in what the northerners have achieved:

- Norske Spirer AS was the first company in Norway to produce and sell fresh sprouts in Norway. To keep pace with developments, the company has invested in modern machines that can produce organic sprouts in the same efficient way as other sprouts. There have been dramatic changes in the market in recent years and Norske Spirer is in the process of consolidating its position in a growing market, Innovation Norway has stated.

From «grass» to market leader

It is almost 40 years since Norske Spirer saw the light of day. Hans Petter Skinstad, farmer and father of today's drivers of Norske Spirer, thought both broadly and alternatively when he looked for more sources of income. He was concerned that he could run everything on his own and was not interested in buying products for resale, and tried both the production of strawberries and organic oat snacks - without success.

- In the end, it was between vodka and sprouts. And fortunately he chose sprouts, smiles Jon Kristofer Skinstad.

The contrast from Skinstad senior's first sales trip to today could hardly have been greater. When the farmer for the first time took the car to Økern in Oslo with the sprouts, he was told that no one wanted to buy grass.

- We have come a long way since then. Operating revenues exceeded NOK 14,6 million in 2018, and 2019 is expected to be at least as good.

Got a boost with automated production

For Norske Spirer, it is crucial to have their place of residence on the family farm in Nord-Odal. The costs of renting or owning a production facility in Oslo would simply have been far too great.

- We have invested 10 million in this room, have access to fantastic good water that is not chlorinated, and generally enjoy the workplace right outside the front door of the house. In addition, we have sufficient proximity to the market, the distance to Gardermoen and Oslo is not long, says Jon Kristofer Skinstad, who also makes sure to point out that the company has access to good and safe labor here.

These factors - where the economy is the most important - have given the company the opportunity to gradually implement robots that can both help, relieve and complement manpower.

- Automated production also provides better quality and food safety. Among other things, we have electronic sensors with alarms that check temperatures, and the time we previously used to double check everything can now be used for other things. The changes in the way we work have meant that you do not have to stand in the same place for seven and a half hours, today there are far more tasks that come with the job, Skinstad explains.

Will reach out to even more

When asked directly about what the future holds for Norske Spirer, Skinstad again answers as the idiot he is:

- We will not change and will continue to grow in the same organic way as now. But we may be bigger, with expanded premises and extensions.

- What we are clear about, however, is that we want to reach even more people. Sprouts are a good alternative to, for example, the slice of bread, and even more people can open their eyes to the product. We have worked more actively with marketing and new products in recent years, and we will continue to do so.