Alone, but with many colleagues
Tor Egil Torp works on his own in the production premises at home, but over the years he has gained many colleagues. That is because he takes part in networks and courses, something he both enjoys and benefits from.
Hadeland Viltslakteri in Jevnaker is run by Tor Egil Torp, ably assisted by his wife Ramona Narvesen. Several times a week, he is in touch with the founders of other small companies who have the same ambitions as himself: to be a professional local food producer with ambition to grow.
“I want a local touch, primarily supplying an extended local market. The aim is to work in the business full time. At the same time, I am aware that I should not outgrow the business and that growth must not be at the expense of the quality of the goods I produce,” says Tor Egil Torp.
Hadeland Viltslakteri currently supplies game to the local restaurant Oldemors Karjol, to Hadeland Glassworks and to restaurants that specifically focus on local food, including in Oslo. He also takes part in local fairs and exhibitions. Tor Egil Torp is now ready to supply local food shops.
It all started with elk killed on the roads
The whole thing started with run-over elk in 1994. Torp was active in game management at the time.
“Huge numbers of elk were run over that year, on both the roads and the railways. I thought it was a pity to see so much good meat go to waste, and that’s when the idea of meat production arose,” explains Torp. He started in the garage, went on to equip the pig barn and today has new and well equipped premises for the production of sausages and burgers based on game. Hadeland Viltslakteri was established as a company in 1998.
“To be honest, I was a complete novice. My father was a butcher, so I suppose it was in my blood, but I knew almost nothing about sausage making, food safety, storage or marketing. I yearned for knowledge, and I discovered that there was a lot of help to be found through Innovation Norway’s network programme,” smiles Torp.
He talks of the Network Programme for the Food Industry, which is part of Verdiskapingsprogrammet for Mat (VSP Mat) – a value creation programme for food. This was started in 1995, with funding from the government budget. Over the years since, Nofima Mat and other competence centres have organised 116 networks for more than 600 Norwegian companies. Network topics range from safe food production to marketing, packaging, shelf life and sensory properties.
Gives me more confidence
Hadeland Viltslakteri has had many dealings with meat technologist Tom Chr. Johannessen and food safety adviser Berit Foss Hille of Nofima Mat. He has taken part in courses on sausage production and meat processing and networks in food safety and HACCP.
“If you have little experience in the industry, you should have the sense to make use of the networks. I have learnt a lot from other companies and from professionals in the research centres. This gives me more confidence in what I am doing, as well as giving me valuable experience. For example, these days I can soon see when the mixture doesn’t have the right consistency,” says Torp.
We need to keep track
Safe food adviser Berit Foss Hille and Nofima’s sausage expert Tom Chr. Johannessen are full of praise for Tor Egil Torp. They emphasise how important it is to find information and expertise. Tom Chr. Johannessen explains that Hadeland Viltslakteri has taken part in 14 courses and networks since 2002. The company has also been involved in various development projects, which have led to new products and increased sales.
“Hadeland Viltslakteri is one of the small-scale companies that has been with us the longest. They want to absorb knowledge, and they have shown that they thrive on it. It is very useful for us to keep track of these growth companies that keep coming back to us,” says the sausage expert.
“Producing food for people is a big responsibility. So it is important to have routines for ensuring food safety. One wrong step can mean the end of the company,” says Berit Foss Hille. “And the more you know about processes and production, the safer they are.”