VTT expands its food research - Kaisu Riihinen and Pekka Lehtinen start as new food team leaders


VTT with its partners solve global challenges of the food system. The focus is not only on improving the current food production processes, but also on harnessing new, even revolutionary, technologies for the use of the food system. With the establishment of two new teams, VTT will be able to respond to the growing interest in food research.

The development of a sustainable food system is in the core of VTT strategy. The food system is facing major changes due to climate change, biodiversity loss, eutrophication and overconsumption of natural resources. In addition, malnutrition poses significant challenges to public health and the economies. VTT's research and innovation activities focus especially on the development of plant-based food processes, the valorization of side streams and low-value raw materials, and the harnessing of biotechnology for food production.

In September, VTT will kick off two new food research teams, which will be led by Kaisu Riihinen and Pekka Lehtinen.

Kaisu Riihinen joins VTT from Avena Nordic Grain, where she worked as an R&D Manager. Kaisu's Food Design team focuses especially on the development of new sustainable food products with excellent sensory and nutritional profiles. Focus is especially on using new raw ingredient sources in food design.

"I look forward to getting to know all the VTT experts and our customers and stakeholders. I have previously been a VTT’s customer, and I believe that this experience brings valuable insight to the customer interface and when targeting to create impact with our customers," says Kaisu Riihinen.

Pekka Lehtinen returns to VTT after a food business and university career. He starts to lead the Grain processing  technologies  team, which aims to develop new ingredients. Plant-based ingredients in particular are an integral part of the food system of the future, and it is therefore important to develop new separation and processing technologies that enable both resource-efficient use of raw materials and the production of high-quality ingredients.

"It's great to be back at VTT and work with VTT's excellent research teams. The food system is undergoing major changes towards more responsible production and improved consumer wellbeing. Through cooperation, we can turn the food system challenges into opportunities both for business and society," says Pekka Lehtinen.

"By establishing these new teams, VTT will be able to respond to the growing interest in food research. VTT has a long history in developing plant-based and biotechnological solutions that drive the change on both national and global level. Therefore, we strongly believe that VTT has excellent potential to play an important role in the development of a sustainable food system," says Emilia Nordlund, Research Manager at VTT Industrial Biotechnology and Food Research Area.

Finland is a high-tech country in food production and also a good place to develop food technologies and innovations for testing before they are scaled into global markets. Together with our partners, VTT wants to be a pioneer in creating new food innovations and paving the way for a sustainable food system.

Emilia Nordlund
Emilia Nordlund
Our vision beyond 2030

Demand for food is growing at the same rate as the world population. Food production needs to be both sufficiently efficient and less harmful for the environment than before. The challenge is massive, but big steps have already been taken in the right direction.