Strikes Hit Hard: Why Finland’s Trade in Forestry Dropped 40%

Finland is one of the world's largest pulp and paper markets, and following the Red Sea Crisis has become Europe's lifeline for supply.

Tue 11 Jun 24


The Finnish forest products industry has been smashed by strikes, with the action driving a 40% drop in trade value. According to the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the value of forest exports fell to Euro 0.6 billion in April 2024, representing a sharp decline from 1 Euro billion in April 2023.

At the time, Wood Central reported that three of the world’s largest forest companies, including UPM, Stora Enso, and Metsa, closed pulp or paper mills after Finnish workers agreed to a two-week “strike “walkout” due to changes to labour market regulations.

The strike action, which centred around the major unions’ opposition to austerity measures introduced by the Finnish government, comes despite the three giants capitalising on the Red Sea Crisis, which continues to cause a bottleneck in paper supply chains.

Finland’s plans to roll out sweeping austerity measures have sparked protests and strikes across the country. The footage is courtesy of @artetvdocumentary.

In addition to a drop in trade value, Finnish volumes also took a hit, with a 23% reduction in imports, offset by an increase in wood chips, up 19% over April 2023.

According to Luke, the forest industry exported more than Euro 2.58 billion in forest products for the first quarter of 2024. 23% of the export value came from paper, 27% from paperboard, and 22% from pulp, with lumber and plywood accounting for 14% and 5%, respectively.

The real value of wood-based exports was Euro 0.60 billion, or Euro 0.20 billion per month, representing a 22% decrease over the past year. The pulp and paper industry averaged Euro 0.66 billion per month, an 18% decline from last year—the drop largely thanks to the March strikes, which drove exports down 50%.

The value of magazines and fine paper fell by 12% and 14% despite an increase in export volumes, continuing a global trend in the industry. The value and volume of paperboard exports also decreased by 15% and 6%.

Where does Finland get its wood from?

Latvia, Estonia, and Sweden are Finland’s primary sources of timber, accounting for 41%, 30%, and 17%, respectively. 45% of imports come from pulpwood, followed by 41% chips and 2% logs. In addition, imports of pulpwood and logs decreased by 14% and 1%, respectively, while imports increased by 15%.


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