Products’ country of origin and production probably interest consumers more now than ever before. The economic uncertainty brought by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have led many of us to consider our consumer behaviour, which is apparent in the increase in popularity of Finnish products and services. Consumers also demand responsibility and transparency from companies. The Key Flag Symbol, which is a guarantee of Finnish manufacturing and work, is a country-of-origin label recognised by most people in Finland.
Key Flag Symbol is monitored
The Key Flag Symbol was created in 1965 as a campaign label, and it became the symbol for the country of origin in 1975. Unlike the made-in-Finland and domestic origin labels launched by various stores, the Key Flag Symbol is monitored and managed by the Association of Finnish Work and is a guarantee of Finnish work. Finnish work refers to all work carried out in Finland.
The key Flag Symbol is awarded on application, and it is based on strict criteria which the applicant must meet. The Key Flag Symbol Committee, led by an official from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland, accepts applications six times a year. The committee also includes representatives from the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), the Chambers of Commerce, Suomen Yrittäjät (organisation for small and medium-sized enterprises) and consumers.
Key Flag Symbol criteria for a product or product group
The award criteria for the Key Flag Symbol may initially appear vague or complicated. The rule of thumb, however, is that the product or product group must fulfil two important criteria:
- the product or product group must be manufactured in Finland and
- the domestic content of the break-even cost must be at least 50 percent, taking into account, for example, raw materials, supplies, partly or semi-finished goods, packing materials and supplies and variable and fixed employee costs. On average, the domestic content of Key Flag Symbol products is more than 80 percent.
The “image of Finnish origin” criterion may at first seem somewhat confusing. The image of Finnish origin is an added factor which the committee applies to its decisions on whether to award the Key Flag Symbol. With some applications, all the other criteria for the Key Flag Symbol are met but the overall image is not Finnish. In such cases, the committee may make the decision not to award the Key Flag Symbol. In other words, the criterion in question eliminates rather than supports applications.
Key Flag Symbol criteria for food products
The Key Flag Symbol is available for food products based on the same criteria as products from other industries. The Key Flag Symbol does not mean that all the raw ingredients must be Finnish. However, in general terms, we strongly recommend that the origin of the main ingredient is declared on the packaging because the use of the Key Flag Symbol must not be misleading.
Key Flag Symbol criteria for services
Since 1995, the symbol has been granted to Finnish individual and named services. The first criteria are similar to that of products, i.e.,
- the service process must be produced in Finland and the minimum domestic content of the service must be 50 percent of the break-even cost. The most important cost factor for a service is its workforce, and thus, the domestic content of Key Flag Symbol services is normally 100 % or close to it. The applicant organisation must also have:
- significant Finnish ownership and management and headquarters located in Finland. In practice, a company with foreign ownership cannot be awarded a Key Flag Symbol for services.
Furthermore, the committee takes into account Finnish design and/or product development as well as the impact the service has on strengthening the status of Finnish products or services. It is also important to remember that the symbol does not take into consideration the nationality of the employees. Read the exact rules here.
Sometimes we are asked why the criteria for granting the Key Flag Symbol are not the same for the manufacturing and service sectors with regards to ownership and headquarters. The rules for “Made in Finland” have from the beginning not made demands on the location of a company. It has been regarded as more important for the symbol and national economy that the manufacturing takes place in Finland and creates jobs in the country.
The committee of the Key Flag Symbol and the executive committee of the Association of Finnish Work have discussed the criteria for services and have come to the conclusion that for services the ownership together with Finland-based management and headquarters are important factors when consumers or public procurement make purchase decisions. These points also act as distinguishing factors for services in, for example, IT and healthcare sectors which involve a great deal of foreign competition.
Key Flag Symbol criteria for online stores
A Key Flag Symbol in connection to an online store tells customers that the online store is managed by a Finnish company which employs people in Finland. Behind a Key Flag Symbol online store is always a customer service company. The Key Flag Symbol for services has been available for online stores already before, but this year we have produced the “Finnish online store” text logo to go with the symbol and defined the requirements and messages of the symbol for online stores.
Where can consumers find the Key Flag Symbol?
An ordinary consumer can normally find the Key Flag Symbol in product packaging and grocery stores. The Association of Finnish Work has been cooperating with corporations for many years. The Key Flag Symbol is visible in corporations’ systems, advertising, stores and digital channels such as online stores for groceries.
More than 5,600 products and services in most sectors hold the Key Flag Symbol from manufacturing industries to digital services and now more and more often online stores as well. You can find them all at our Sinivalkoinenvalinta.fi service.
Customer Relationship Manager, The Key Flag
+358 50 344 6048