“Demand for printing and writing paper has been decreasing for a long time now, especially due to digitalisation in developed markets, and this is reflected in paper production,” says Timo Jaatinen, Director General of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
Meanwhile, changing consumer habits have had a positive impact on paperboard demand. Online shopping increases demand for paperboard packaging, as does the fact that plastic packaging is being replaced by paperboard packaging manufactured from a renewable material. In January-September, paperboard production totalled 2.7 million tonnes, which is 7.9% more than in the year ago period. In July-September, 0.9 million tonnes of paperboard was produced, which represents an increase of 9% compared to the corresponding period in 2016.
Softwood sawn timber production in January-September increased by 5.9% compared to the year ago period and totalled 8.9 million cubic metres. In recent years, China has become a significant export market especially for spruce sawn timber. In the third quarter, softwood sawn timber production remained at the same level as in the corresponding period last year, that is, 2.6 million cubic metres.
Plywood production increased by 10.3% in January-September to 0.9 million cubic metres. In July-September, plywood production totalled 0.3 million cubic metres, which is 16% more than in the year ago period. Plywood is primarily used in construction, vehicle flooring, and LNG tankers. Growth in the European new construction and renovation markets had a positive impact on plywood production.
Pulp production in January-September amounted to 5.7 million tonnes, up by 2.3% from the same period last year. In recent years, Finnish forest industry companies have made significant investments into pulp production capacity but this is not yet fully reflected in production volumes. In July-September, 1.9 million tonnes of pulp was produced, an increase of 5% from the same period in 2016.
Finnish forest industry companies’ markets are mostly in Europe and Asia, depending on the product groups they focus on. Finnish producers’ competitiveness, especially in the paper industry, is strained by high production costs as well as long transport distances compared to our main competing countries Sweden and Germany.
“Forest industry companies operating in Finland bring the country substantial economic wellbeing by paying taxes, offering employment, and by using domestic raw materials. Forest industry products account for over a fifth of Finland’s merchandise exports. Companies operating in Finland need symmetrical operating conditions compared to competing countries, so that Finland remains an attractive and competitive location for industrial production and investments,” says Timo Jaatinen.