Lapland brewery closure stuns locals

beer-lapin-kultaThe news that Lapin Kulta, the iconic beer of Finland’s Lapland, is set to halt production has shocked residents and city officials in the brewery town of Tornio.

Siku News reports that just last week, employer Hartwall met with employees of the Lapin Kulta brewery to notify them of the intention to close the facility. Negotiations on the future of the workers will begin later this week.

Chief shop steward of the Lapin Kulta brewery, Markku Rautio, said he and his colleagues were stunned by the news. ”We could not expect anything like this; the news came as a great surprise to all of us. According to the announcement, the premises will be vacated,” said Rautio.

The Dutch Heineken group took over Hartwall in 2008 and the announcement provoked a mass walk out of the group’s Lahti and Tornio sites. The small northern city of Tornio is expected to be hit hard by the closure, as the brewery was the oldest surviving industrial operation in Lapland. The brewery is a landmark in the city and crucial to the employment of many city residents who are expected to face difficulty in finding new employment. Around 100 jobs will be lost as a result of the closure, with the city set to lose some EUR 700,000 in tax receipts.

Tornio City Manager Raimo Ronkainen expressed his dismay at the decision: “As far as I understand, the Tornio brewery has not been an unprofitable unit; but apparently it has not been profitable enough. From the Dutch perspective, it is all the same to Heineken, whether the beer is made in Tornio or in Lahti. This is the price of globalisation,” Ronkainen added.

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