We have responsibility to our customers to ensure that the products sold at K-stores are of high quality, well researched and responsibly produced.

Quality and customer orientation are the basis of the K-Group’s operations. We develop and improve our business operations continuously in order to ensure the high quality of our products and services.

  • We have a strong corporate identity and strong brands
  • We take care of wellbeing across the entire production chain and take responsibility from field to fork
  • Our own product research laboratory controls the quality of groceries sold by K-food stores
Common K-brand

A strong corporate identity and strong brands are the prerequisite of the K-Group’s renewal. As part of the strategy work, the common K-brand is developed and a strong umbrella brand and a corporate identity are built.

In accordance with the brand strategy, K makes daily life easier and builds the inspiration to make dreams come true. We anticipate our customers’ needs and serve them personally throughout life. We make every effort for shopping to be fun.

The basic promise is delivered at every store and in every job. Our operations are guided by customers’ needs, sentiments and their identification.


High-quality own brands

Pirkka products combine high quality and affordability. The Pirkka range contains over 2,500 products and has a significant position in the K-food store selection as a whole.

Finnish products are always preferred when selecting items to add to the Pirkka range, provided that the product meets the quality and price criteria. Nearly 100% of all fresh products, such as meat and processed meat, and liquid dairy products, like milks and creams, are of Finnish origin.

The number of products carrying a responsibility label is increased continuously. In 2015, the Pirkka range included:

  • 95 Pirkka products bearing the Swan label
  • 260 Pirkka products bearing the Hyvää Suomesta (Produce of Finland) label
  • 40 Pirkka Fairtrade products
  • 134 Pirkka Organic products
  • 41 Pirkka MSC-certified fishes
  • 17 Pirkka products bearing the UTZ label

The asset of the K-Menu range is affordability. The products in the range are good-quality daily essentials, such as fresh meats, processed meats, pasta, juices, frozen foods and canned foods. The emphasis is on basic foodstuffs, in other words, on products whose prices are the most important criterion to consumers making purchasing decisions. In 2015, there were 291 K-Menu products.

The Cello family of over 3,000 products is a versatile and trendy product brand for interior decoration and home improvement purposes. The range, sold by K-rauta and Rautia stores, is complemented monthly by new, carefully selected products and product packages. Cello products are reasonably priced, of good quality and durable and purchased from the best suppliers in the field. The range includes Cello indoor paints carrying the Swan label, and the Cello outdoor paint available in spring 2016 will also carry the Swan label. The paints have also been awarded the Key Flag symbol of the Association for Finnish Work. 


in action:
Kesko’s own lab monitors the quality of Pirkka and K-Menu products

Kesko’s Product Research laboratory monitors the quality of groceries sold by K-food stores. High-level research ensures food safety.

Kesko's Product Quality Manager Timo Kivi and Product Research Manager Heta Rautpalo


In 2015, the Product Research laboratory analysed 8,037 product samples and conducted 20,396 analyses.

Since the spring of 2015, the laboratory has focused on monitoring the quality of groceries and, above all, on microbiological determinations, such as monitoring salmonella and listeria levels.

All new own-brand products – those in the Pirkka and K-Menu ranges – are analysed carefully several times.

“Each new product to be included in the range goes through a multi-stage survey which consists of lab analyses and sensory evaluations. The quality and safety of the first finished lot of a new product are checked before the product is approved for sale. In accordance with our lot monitoring plan, we also regularly check that the quality of the product remains at the required high level,” says Kesko’s Product Quality Manager, Timo Kivi.

The quality of the lab’s performance is assessed every year

The Product Research laboratory is a T251 testing laboratory that has been accredited by the FINAS accreditation services. It is the only research laboratory for trading sector own-label products that has been approved to comply with the SFSEN ISO/IEC 17025 standard.

An annual accreditation survey is conducted in which external reviewers of the FINAS accreditation services assess the performance and quality of the laboratory and its analyses.

The quality of measurements and accuracy of results are ensured when analysis methods are validated and measuring instruments are calibrated. The laboratory annually participates in comparative surveys in which several laboratories from different countries assess factors such as the salt content of the same sample.


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in action:
K-maatalous Experimental Farm promotes domestic food production

The K-maatalous Experimental Farm plays a significant role in the development of the Finnish food chain. Many new plants have found their way to the Finnish production and dinner tables thanks to the development and research carried out by the experimental farm.

The cultivation programme concept of the K-maatalous Experimental Farm contains the know-how farmers need to be able to produce the best quality food.

The K-maatalous Experimental Farm in Hauho focuses on the development of varieties and research work promoting sustainable cultivation methods and better domestic food production. The research conducted on the farm aims to provide K-maatalous retailers and farmers with tested solutions for making productive product choices and optimising their harvests.

During the growth season in Finland, the length of the day – the number of hours of light – is longer than in other areas on the globe where agriculture is practiced. Due to the short and intensive growth season, plants must adapt to the special circumstances in our country.

”Over the years, the Experimental Farm has made several agricultural machinery innovations and developed cultivation technology and completely new plants for Finnish production. The new varieties developed and tested here include beef tomatoes, root vegetables for stock and, most recently, autumn barley. The suitability of the varieties must be tested before they can be adopted for cultivation, and this is what we do for the farmers,” says Marjo Serenius, Research Director of the K-maatalous Experimental Farm.

Sustainable cultivation for decades to come

The experimental farm has been operating for over 50 years and also looks further into the future. The farm plans to study how to maintain the soil’s growth potential and keep it productive for future generations.

The future impacts of climate change on agriculture have been considered on the experimental farm.

“According to scenarios, we may be suffering from drought in the spring, wider variations in temperatures and heavy occasional rains. All this makes farming more difficult, though global warming should also enable the cultivation of southern plant varieties here in the north. Nobody knows yet for certain if soybean, for example, could be cultivated at these latitudes in the future,” says Serenius.

Farming may become highly important to Finland. In line with climate change scenarios, the land areas that are currently fertile will dry out or become otherwise unsuitable for farming.

“This means that cultivation has to move to new areas in order to ensure food production around the globe. Maybe farming will, to some extent, be replaced with other means of food production, such as the artificial production of proteins or insects.”

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Responsible purchasing

Our customers can always trust that the products available at the K-Group stores are responsible choices.

Kesko’s buyers and Product Research work daily to ensure that the products in the stores are high-quality, safe and produced responsibly. By the time products end up on store shelves, they have undergone extensive study and research.

Kesko’s responsible purchasing is guided by:

The environmental impacts of products are taken into account from the planning stage; unnecessary packaging is avoided and recyclable materials are favoured.

Special attention is paid to human rights issues and working conditions in the purchasing chain. When suppliers are monitored, the focus is on the countries where the risks of violations of these rights are the greatest (for example, most Asian and African countries).

Special attention is paid to working conditions at factories in high-risk countries, though the quantities imported from these countries are small (1.2% of all Kesko’s purchases in 2015).

International assessment systems, BSCI auditing and SA8000 certification, are used for supplier audits in high-risk countries. Kesko is a member of the European Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI).

Stakeholder address:
Support for migrant workers’ families prevents human rights risks in companies

The lives of migrant workers and their children in Thailand can be improved by developing working conditions and supporting children’s access to schooling.

Pa moved to Thailand with her family 15 years ago. She earns 200–300 Thai baht (5–8 euro) per day by gutting and drying fish.

Her youngest child, seven-year-old Tai, was born in Thailand. The girl has not yet started school. In response to her enquiries, Pa has been receiving the same answer: there is no room at schools.

”I want my daughter to go to school. If there is no other choice, I will send her back to Cambodia. Then I would see her only once or twice a year,” Pa says.

Rights also belong to migrant workers

In the fish and shrimp industry of Thailand, cases often arise in which the rights of migrant workers are violated. In some cases, they are forced to work excessive hours. Both the EU and the USA have criticised the government of Thailand for not systematically intervening in violations of human rights in the fish industry.

Plan International, an organisation that promotes children’s rights, works with local operators and Kesko to improve the conditions of migrant workers in the Thai fish industry. The aim of the project is to prevent all types of abuse and enable schooling and vocational training for migrant workers’ children.

It’s great that Kesko considers it important to support children’s rights on a long term basis. By promoting the schooling and protection of migrant workers’ children, Kesko can help us prevent human rights risks, such as child labour, in the production chain. This is in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the international Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Joint efforts to find solutions to challenges faced by the fish industry

Investments in children’s education and vocational skills do not alone permanently solve the malpractices and human rights risks in the fish industry of Thailand. Problems such as child labour and abuse of migrant workers occur particularly at the early phases of the production chain in the unofficial sector.

Attacking these problems requires cooperation between companies, the government and organisations. In cooperation with Kesko and other companies, Plan can achieve a much wider impact than it could alone.

Niina Mikolanniemi, Senior Corporate Partnership Manager, Plan International Finland

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Pirkka Fairtrade coffee from Honduras

Pirkka Fairtrade coffee beans are produced by small family farms in Honduras. Fairtrade is one way in which consumers can make sure that a product produced in a developing country has been cultivated in a sustainable manner with respect to both people and the environment.

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Competent personnel assure quality

Kesko and K-stores offer a wide range of career and development opportunities in the trading sector. As the operating environment and customer needs change, the continuous development of employee competence is increasingly important.

Core areas in competence development are:

  • Digital services
  • Sales and service skills
  • Product line specific competitive advantage initiatives
  • Security and responsibility
  • Immediate supervisory work
  • Leadership

Sales and service training is particularly emphasized in the Master Sales Assistant programme targeted at all K-Group sales persons. Store personnel are also offered vocational training and opportunity to achieve vocational qualifications.

The transition of the trading sector, coupled with an increase in electronic transactions, have created the need for new skills. Digitalisation impacts on jobs at all levels and also creates new job titles, such as data analyst or e-commerce coordinator, for example.

The following actions were taken to improve the digital skills of Kesko personnel in 2015:

  • The K Digital Academy training programme, with 31 marketing professionals from the K-Group, was delivered. The programme was part of strategy implementation aiming to strengthen digital marketing skills in all divisions.
  • Employees’ digital skills were mapped out with a digital questionnaire in connection with performance and development reviews, which received more than 600 replies
  • An e-learning programme was prepared on the topic of digital marketing and made available to everyone
  • Numerous training sessions on social media were arranged regionally for retailers

In 2016, the K-digitrainee training programme will be arranged. The young people selected for the programme will explore the many types of digital jobs within the K-Group. The K-digitrainee programme is linked to the initiative of Suomen Mentorit to support the employment of young people who have recently completed their degrees.