Balsgård - new investment in innovative beverages

At Balsgård in northwestern Skåne, SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) has a plant-breeding business with an emphasis on fruit and berries. Aroma, Katja, Fredrik and Rödluvan are four apple varieties developed here. The past ten years have also seen exciting development work in the field of innovative beverages – operations that as from the beginning of the year have been run and financed by a new main owner from the business sector with SLU Holding and HKR Holding as partners.

Balsgård is in the middle of Apple Country. Many new varieties of apples and grapes have been developed here. The operations on the farm have been part of SLU since the university was formed in 1977. The emphasis is on plant breeding and genetically excellent plants with varietal identity. Another natural part of the operations has been offering companies, students and entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop, test and produce innovative new beverages.

Growing market for innovative beverages
In the pilot plant, which has existed for over ten years, it has been possible to test different raw materials and production methods, and to develop a number of different concepts for niche target groups. The work has been successful, and has helped several smaller players on their way.

"Innovative beverages are an exciting market that we assess will grow. Thanks to our new owner we’ve been able to secure the business, which is important to the continued development work,” says Nicholas Jakobsson, senior advisor SLU Holding, who on behalf of SLU has been responsible for the process of finding a new owner who can develop and run the testing and development plant.

Balsgård Foodtech AB new owner
The new solution means that a private player from the business sector, Mårtensson Consulting, is becoming the main owner, and SLU Holding is becoming a partner together with Kristianstad University’s holding company HKR Holding.

“SLU's remit is not to carry out commercially oriented business that the testing operations need to develop into, so as to feel good in the long term. A change has thus been important. SLU also lacks the requisite resources to run and develop this business on the farm. The desire throughout the process has been for the testing operations to remain at Balsgård, even when SLU is no longer the principal. And that’s what will be happening. Balsgård has expertise that is important to the continued work – expertise that we wish to keep within the business," explains Nicholas.

Just as before, large and small companies, students and entrepreneurs can use Balsgård Foodtech in their development work. The business is open to operators from all over the country, but the focus is primarily on acting as a resource for regional players.

Tests provide important new knowledge

“The area of innovative beverages is interesting, and developments are fast-moving. I’m convinced that we’ll soon be seeing completely new beverages that we’ve not seen before. They include various functional beverages such as sports drinks – specially designed drinks for various age groups that contain a mix of different raw ingredients and flavours. The combinations of different fruits, vegetables and juices seem pretty endless. Balsgård Foodtech can provide the opportunity for important product development at an early stage and proximity to new knowledge,” says Nicholas.

Nils Mårtensson, CEO Mårtensson Consulting, who is now taking over the business, agrees.

Dynamic collaboration at neutral meeting place

“The food industry is facing major challenges, and there is great demand for a new approach – not least within the field of plant-based beverages. With this initiative we want to create the opportunity to develop new products, new technology and new business. Balsgård Foodtech is a neutral meeting place for dynamic collaboration between academia, research and the business sector. Twenty years ago I worked on development projects but was unable to find the right place, where I could develop, and drive and test ideas. We now want to help create such a platform for others," says Nils Mårtensson.

The company’s sights are set on growth and on developing Balsgård Foodtech into a well-known company that contributes to the creation of growth within the industry.

Innovative development work creates success

“We want to be an innovative and efficient partner for development and testing of new products and new technology. Our vision is for the company within a few years to have grown in terms of the number of assignments, customers and processes that our work can involve. And we hope that in a few years ‘the market’s most sought-after and coolest beverage’ will be a plant-based beverage developed here,” says Nils Mårtensson, CEO Mårtensson Consulting.

With its new owners, the business can now expand and grow.

"We have the requisite structure in place," says Nicholas Jakobsson, senior advisor, SLU Holding Alnarp.


For further information on SLU's plant-breeding activities at Balsgård and Balsgård Foodtech AB, please contact
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