A summer day in the 1920’s the young man Hjalmar Ingman from Sipoo had a brilliant idea. He knew that the people living in the Helsinki area had fallen in love with the velvet-like taste of real curdled milk from the archipelago. Therefore, he decided to try selling as much home-made curdled milk as he could. The curdled milk was made by Hjalmar’s mother Aurora in their little sauna, situated at a farm named Kuus in Massby. At the farm, the family usually had from five to seven cows. On a regular basis, Hjalmar travelled by his father’s boat on the Sipoo river to the market place in Helsinki, where he sold his curdled milk in wooden pots. His first trip was a success: he sold 18 out of 30 pots, along with a few smaller pots of starter, which is used in the process of making the curdled milk. Hjalmar’s business grew quickly. The amount of customers grew, and several even wanted the products delivered to their own shops. Hjalmar was happy to do this, and soon he had created a regular clientele.
After the first few years, the little sauna was not big enough for producing the demanded amount of curdled milk. In 1935, the production was moved to the cellar of Styrmans’ farm, which Hjalmar had bought in 1931. Now, his wife Judith was in charge of producing the curdled milk.
During the war, the business was very limited due to the rationing of most foodstuffs, including milk. Hjalmar still kept taking care of some deliveries of starter, which the customers, with their limited milk supplies, could use themselves while making curdled milk at home.
At the time, Hjalmar and Judith were also busy taking care of four young boys: Carl-Gustaf, Hans, Lars and Per-Henrik.
After the war, the business started picking up again. Milk, cottage cheese, sour cream and traditional cream cheese were introduced to the product assortment in the early 50’s. Judith and a few other women from the town took care of the manufacturing, while Hjalmar himself handled the deliveries, orders and payments. Lars, their son, also joined the business at a very young age.
During the 50’s, huge amounts of dairy products were produced at Styrmans’, and the demand kept growing. The idea of building a real dairy awoke. Hjalmar had just turned 56. The construction process started immediately, and as early as in 1961, the dairy stood completed. The year 1969 was a challenging year for the company. The competition was hard and the own product assortment was very modest compared with others’. Hjalmar’s sons, Carl-Gustaf, who was now an economist, and Hans, who was an engineer, decided to leave their jobs, and join the business. During the year, the decision to start producing yoghurt was made. Investments in modern manufacturing equipment were made, and a big TV-campaign was arranged in order to kick-start the sales.
A couple of years later, the company had already reached a turnover of 13,5 million FIM. In 1970 the eldest son Carl-Gustaf took over as managing director for the company. The expansion of the company continued during the 70’s. Many investments were made, for instance in Maitotuote Oy. Their subsidiary, Kiteen Meijeri Oy was bought by Ingman in 1972. Butter and milk powder were added to the product selection. Even fruit juices started to be packed and marketed unded the name Hj. Ingman in the 70’s. Within time, the idea of developing the business towards a whole new category was born: now, they wanted to produce ice cream. After several tries and big investments, they had managed to get equipment for production. The first ice cream sticks were made in 1978. Bravo was one of the very first ice cream brands.
The 80’s were very successful for the business, while the consumption of yoghurt and ice cream kept increasing quickly in the country. In 1986, the market share for yoghurt was 15%, and for ice cream 6,2%. The company’s initial product, the curdled milk, also stood on its feet with a share of 14,2%. 1987 was a decisive year, when Oy Hj. Ingman Ab and Hemholmen Ab, decided to carry out a combination merger. The history of Hemholmen Ab, or former Jordbrukarnas Mjölkcentral Ab, goes back all the way to the year of 1907 in Helsinki. The now well-known classics Jättis, Kingis and Lipsi were first produced in the years 1979-1980 by Hemholmen Ab. Due to the fusion, the construction process of a whole new dairy in Massby was made possible. The new dairy was double the size of the old one, and was finished in the year of 1991.
In 1991, Apetit Pakaste Oy was sold to Ingman Foods Oy Ab. The company continued using the name Ingman Foods Oy Ab. In 1992 Ingman also invested in the Swedish company Glassbilen Ab with a share of 50%. Soon, even Russia and the Baltic countries were targeted. The ice cream sales in Estonia had started out well, and some products, mainly juice, were introduced in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Minsk. A new ice cream factory, Ingman-Vega, was built in the city of Mazeikiai in Lithuania in 1993.
In 2002, Ingman Foods Oy Ab became the owner of the majority of the stocks in the Swedish ice cream company Åhus Glass Ab. The brand Sun Ice was also offered to the company by Saarioinen. In 2006, the whole new Ingman Group Oy Ab was corporated. The dairy business continues still using the name Ingman Foods Oy Ab, whereas the ice cream business keeps on working under the name Ingman Ice Cream Oy Ab. In 2007 Ingman Foods Oy Ab was sold to the Swedish-Danish dairy company Arla Foods Ab.
Ingman Ice Cream raised their share in the Belarussian company COOO Ingman Morozhenoe to 60,4%, and during 2011 to 71,3%. In the middle of December Ingman Group and Ingman Ice Cream moved their head offices to the old factory on Massbyntie 101 and at the end of the month Ingman Ice Cream as a whole was sold to Unilever Finland Oy. In the summer 2012 Ingman Group aquired the majority in Halti Oy. The following year Ingman Development, which bought shares in Trigon Dairy Farming, was established. During the autumn 2013 the majority of the shares in Etteplan Oyj was aqcuired and the share of M-Brain exceeded the limit for associated companies. During the spring 2014 Digia Oyj became an assiciated company. Two years later Digia was split in two companies, Digia Oyj and The Qt Company Oyj.