Kotivara

What kind of a company is Kotivara?

Kotivara is a producer of foodstuffs, located in Oulu in Northern Finland. We started our business in 1943 by selling prepared foods and river lampreys in Oulu. We specialised in sausages already in 1947, and salami became our main product in the 90s. Our best-known product is Kotivara’s Russian Salami. Today we also produce reindeer meat products. All of our products are produced in our own salami factory in Oulu. We have approximately 50 employees, which means that all of us know each other.

Who owns Kotivara?

We are a Finnish family company. Our owner is the Orvola family, now in the third generation. Some of our owners work at Kotivara and some participate in the work of the board of directors.

Where can I buy Kotivara's products?

Our products are sold all over Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Estonia. Approximately 70% of our sales come from Finland, and the rest from abroad. In addition to Finland, you can also find our products in almost every grocery store in Sweden and Estonia, from small to large stores and from south to north. In Denmark, our salamies are available in some nationwide chains.

What is the purpose and aim of Kotivara?

We want to offer high-quality salami, cold-smoked slices, reindeer products and other foodstuffs in the Nordic countries and in the Baltic Sea Region, and we want to be among the largest salami producers in Northern Europe. The world around us keeps evolving. We want to be a part of this change and to offer our customers ever better products and new flavours.

What are Kotivara's focus areas?

We highlight excellence and commitment because we want to produce excellent salami. Our manufacturing technology is modern and our recipes are personal. Those are the building blocks of delicious first-rate products.

How can I contact Kotivara and how can I apply for a job at Kotivara?

To view our contact information, please click this. There is also a link to Kotivara’s Facebook page on the upper right corner of our website. If you want to work for us, you can send an open application to kotivara@kotivara.fi. In work-related matters, you can also directly contact the persons responsible for different functions.

What information does this site contain?

We want to openly talk about all our operations, because we feel that everybody has the right to receive information about the food they eat. We constantly add more answers and materials on the site. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please contact our customer service.

Product Properties

Why is the shelf life of salami so long?

In salami, there are several factors that inhibit the growth of harmful microbes and change of sensory properties (e.g. flavour, colour, feeling in the mouth). Combined, these factors lengthen the shelf life of salami. Such factors include salt, cold-smoking, low water content, low pH, nitrite used as a preservative agent, antioxidant and a starter pure culture that prevents the growth of harmful microbes and cures the salami. The package that contains as little oxygen as possible and many other package characteristics also extend the shelf life.

Before it’s placed on the market, the shelf life of all salami is tested and the manufacturer determines the promised shelf life based on these tests. The date on the package shows how long an unopened package keeps in the right storage conditions.

What does the meat content of salami mean?

Raw meat naturally contains a lot of water. During curing, plenty of this water evaporates – the weight of salami decreases by dozens of percents. The meat content is indicated by stating how much raw meat is used to produce 100 grams of ready salami. The meat content can be, for example, 130 grams of meat per 100 grams of ready salami.

Why is there a lot of salt in salami?

Salt extends the shelf life of salami and enhances the flavour. Salt also has an essential role in the curing of salami: together with the low pH, it changes the structure of meat proteins to make the salami characteristically firm.

Which of Kotivara's salami products contain less salt than average?

Consuming too much sodium in table salt (sodium chloride) is harmful for us. As a result, the salt content of foodstuffs must be indicated based on the amount of sodium they contain. Any sodium from another source than table salt is also counted towards the salt content.

The salt content can be reduced by replacing sodium chloride with other salts – usually potassium chloride. The salt content of the following Kotivara salami products is reduced by using potassium chloride:

Salami 150 g – salt 2,6 %
Light Russian Salami 170 g – salt 2,0 %
Light Russian Salami 450 g – salt 2,0 %

The average salt content of salami is approximately 4%.

How can I find out if the salami contains allergenic ingredients?

According to the law, common allergens must be highlighted in product labels. In Kotivara’s packages, common allergens are marked in bold.

What does it mean if salami is organic?

Organic products are products of organic agriculture that have been produced in accordance with organic legislation. At least 95% of the products’ ingredients must be organic. In addition to the meat, the spices used in organic salami are also organic. Organic products are indicated with the EU organic logo.

What does the batch number on Kotivara's packages indicate?

In the production of foodstuffs, all the products and ingredients must be traceable. Based on the batch number, we know when the product was produced, what ingredient batches have been used and where did they come from and where the product was delivered to.

The number also allows us to find the batch-specific documents related to the ingredients, as well as the process and self-monitoring data concerning the batch (e.g. temperatures and pH values during the entire curing process of salami). This allows us to authenticate later that the manufacturing process proceeded as desired.

What is the gas used in modified atmosphere packaging?

Foodstuffs are packed by using modified atmosphere packaging to extend their shelf life. Gas that contains a minimum amount of oxygen is used in cold cut packages. The lack of oxygen slows down the growth of microbes and chemical reactions that can alter the taste or colour of the foodstuff product. The gas used by Kotivara is a combination of nitrogen (the most common gas in the atmosphere) and carbon dioxide.

How can I recycle empty packages?

You can put empty Kotivara packages in plastic recycling bins. Wipe the package clean first, when necessary. You don’t need to remove the paper labels.

Ingredients

What requirements does Kotivara set for the meat it uses?

Kotivara only buys meat from operators that are controlled by food authorities. The delivered meat must meet our microbiological, chemical and organoleptic (sensory) quality requirements. The documents concerning the meat batch must be in order and the agreed upon tests must have been performed. The packages must be protective and the correct storage and transport temperature must have been adhered to. All delivered meat batches are examined in Kotivara’s own laboratory, and the meat can only be used for production after the laboratory tests have been approved.

What requirements does Kotivara set for their meat suppliers?

Our meat suppliers must operate under the control of food authorities. We foster long-term relationships with our meat suppliers. This allows us to improve the quality with supplier audits, for example.

From our meat suppliers, we expect good management and reporting of responsibility issues. We utilise country-specific responsibility categorisations provided by independent evaluators and target our control visits to supplier companies where responsibility reporting needs to be improved.

Where does the meat come from?

Our pork and beef usually comes from Finland, Denmark and Germany. Horsemeat comes from the EU and Canada and Argentina. Reindeer meat comes from Finland and Sweden. Red deer meat usually comes from Poland and Spain. The meat always comes from establishments that have been approved for the production of foodstuffs and are under regulatory control. The meat must meet the same quality requirements regardless of the country in which it has been reared and slaughtered.

How does Kotivara ensure traceability?

All the ingredients used in the production of foodstuffs must be traceable. Each supplier is responsible for traceability for one step forward and backward. It is a legal requirement that ingredients for foodstuffs can only be purchased from operators who ensure full traceability back to farms. Traceability is tested regularly.

Based on the batch number indicated in the package, we know when the product was manufactured, what ingredient batches have been used and where did they come from and where the product was delivered to. The number also allows us to find the batch-specific documents related to the ingredients, as well as the self-monitoring and process data concerning the batch (e.g. temperatures and pH values during the entire curing process of salami and other products).

Making of Salami

How is salami made?

We use meat, spices and other ingredients to make salami mass that is put into sausage casings to make salami bars. The bars are then cured for 4–5 weeks. Salamis are not cured with heat, but with fermenting, drying and cold-smoking. The temperature doesn’t rise much above normal room temperature at any point.

Common fermented foods (foods that are produced by the action of microorganisms) include salami, cheese, wine and beer. The starter pure culture is one of the ingredients of salami. It includes a main strain of microbes that multiplies quickly and prevents the growth of harmful microbes. It also ferments the salami at the same time. Today, almost all fermented foods are produced by using starter pure cultures.

Drying is another essential part of salami making: meat naturally contains water and plenty of that evaporates when salami is cured. Cold-smoking enhances the flavour and colour of salami.

What is cold-smoking?

Salami is not cured with heat, but with fermenting, drying and cold-smoking. The temperature in the smoking chambers doesn’t rise much higher than normal room temperature at any point. Cold-smoking means that the smoke is produced outside the smoking chambers and cooled on the way to the chamber. In other words, cold smoke doesn’t produce heat in the smoking chamber.

Is the smoke used in cold-smoking real smoke?

Yes it is. Kotivara uses alder chips produced on the Hailuoto island near Oulu for cold-smoking. The chips are not burned in flames. Instead, smoke is produced by heating the chips.

How long does it take to cure salami?

Salami is cured by fermentation, and the temperature doesn’t rise much higher than normal room temperature at any point. The time needed depends, for example, on the thickness, fat content, coarseness and the desired dryness of the salami. A long curing time enhances the flavour of the salami. E.g. Kotivara’s Russian Salami is cured for approximately 5 weeks.

Quality Control

What requirements does Kotivara set for its products?

The products must be safe and fulfil legal requirements. They must also comply with the promised characteristics and the sensory requirements.

Kotivara ensures the safety and characteristics of the products with self-monitoring and a quality system. Training of the personnel is another key element of product safety: our new employees are allowed to participate in various work phases only after they have been trained.

What does the quality system FSSC 22000 mean?

Companies use quality systems to ensure that all work phases are always carried out correctly as planned and that results are measured at sufficiently intervals. A quality system includes instructions for various work phases and measurements.

Kotivara has in place a quality system based on the FSSC 22000 standard designed for the food industry (FSSC means Food Safety System Certification). It is regularly evaluated by Bureau Veritas, an external evaluator.

What does the name HACCP of the product safety system mean?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. The idea of the system is to identify all work phases of foodstuff production that are critical for product safety and to monitor them effectively. HACCP is part of our quality system.