Chocolate for the world

Jentene på tunetSelbu

With their handmade chocolate based on the best ingredients, Jentene på Tunet have created jobs in the local community and are now receiving international recognition for their aesthetic and tasty products.

“We are not doing this primarily for ourselves - we want to create jobs, an offer that the village can be proud of and an offer that is appealing. We simply want to gather people in pleasant surroundings - to spread and create Chocolate Joy”, says Iris Aune from Jentene på Tunet.

Business development costs money and requires expertise. Innovation Norway has contributed with risk mitigation and reduction of liquidity challenges through grants, as well as expertise and sparring.
Eivind Aune, Jentene på tunet

From supplementary trade to 500 distributors

Iris Martinsen Aune is the Northern Norwegian chef and dietitian who has become Selbu’s answer to Willy Wonka. Her husband Eivind Aune is a farm boy with an MBA in Marketing who sacrificed the barn in order to complete the chocolate adventure. In the summer of 2020, they opened Trøndelag’s finest chocolate factory. All chocolate lovers are now welcome to visit the farm, where they offer different flavours of their main product called Sjokoladefryd.

The idea started in 2015, when the couple ran the Selbutunet Course and Conference Centre and needed something to do on the days when they had no guests. They made chocolate desserts and put them on the menu for the course and conference guests. The guests thought the chocolate tasted fantastic and started buying more and more chocolate to take home. It didn’t take long before they sold the course and conference centre and invested fully in chocolate production.

They started the company Jentenepaatunet AS and received their first grant from Innovation Norway in 2018. Subsequently, they have received advisory services, business development grants and investment grants from Innovation Norway.

“Business development costs money and requires expertise. Innovation Norway has contributed with risk mitigation and reduction of liquidity challenges through grants, as well as expertise and sparring. They have also made us more visible in the market”, says Eivind.

Jentene på Tunet have gone from having two to over 500 distributors in just a short period of time. 70% of sales go through distributors (grocery stores, hotels, deli shops, cafes and restaurants), 15% is direct sales to corporate customers, and 15% is direct sales via their online store and farm shop. The highest coverage is in Central Norway, but they have distributors throughout the entire country.

The Selbu-based company is also very much involved in the local community. In addition to 12 permanent employees, the company provides part-time work to a large group of local youth, and work training and language training for many people moving to Selbu Municipality. Jentene på Tunet focuses specifically on diversity when offering jobs, and many of their employees have an immigrant background.

Further growth and dreaming of abroad

The company has grown rapidly in just a short period of time, and has doubled its turnover every year since its inception. Together with Innovation Norway, Jentene på Tunet has planned and converted their barn into a chocolate factory. Both the applicant and the advisor believed that the 1000-square-metre building would provide plenty of space.

“We moved ‘home’ in June 2020 - to a completely renovated building - and we are already in the process of expanding into another building”, says Eivind.

Although much has happened in a short period of time, the couple believe that the chocolate journey has only just begun. They see many opportunities ahead and dream of taking their chocolate outside Norway’s borders.

A good core team has been a crucial factor regarding their growth. Iris on product development, Eivind on sales and business development, and more and more skilled colleagues. They believe that the market potential is great, but time and money limit their growth rate. The company has many ideas about new products, and also envisions the sale of products produced by others in a well-established and growing retail network.

“Chocolate from many nations is sold in Norway, but there isn’t much Norwegian chocolate abroad. This is something that we really want to change! We have already trademarked ‘Northern Lights Chocolate’ throughout the EU”, says Eivind about the dream of investing internationally.

They have been in contact with Innovation Norway’s London office and received export advisory services from their customer advisor in Innovation Norway Trøndelag.

“One thing is the economic aspects, but having someone to ask, having a support that pushes us and always believes in us means so much. Especially now that we are going to start exporting”, says Iris about the support received from Innovation Norway.

Award winning

Jentene på Tunet have won medals at the International Chocolate Awards four years in a row (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020), and was ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at the 2017 Food Festival in Trøndelag for their Northern Lights chocolate. In 2020, they won two golds, three silvers and a special award at the International Chocolate Awards, and according to the jury are “Scandinavia’s best chocolate’.

The company also won the 2020 national business development award in agriculture.

“Jentene på Tunet are a good representative of the exciting creativity and new developments that are taking place in and in connection with agriculture”, said Minister of Agriculture and Food Olaug Bollestad about the winner.

  • Regional district funds
  • Advisory on internationalisation
  • The business development award in agriculture