Finnish sawmill ER-Saha has had an international approach since its foundation in 1989. Over 80 percent of the sawmill’s production is exported. China is one of its most important export markets, and the number one regarding spruce. ER-Saha’s exports to China keep growing yearly. The best indicator of the rapid growth is that in 2016 the exports were already 35,000 cubic meters, while the volume in 2010, at the beginning of market entry, was about 1,000 cubic meters. In 2013 it was still under 10,000 cubic meters.
According to Olli Poutanen, Chairman of Board of ER-Saha, exports to China will accelerate in 2017.
“In 2017, ER-Saha is going to produce about 180,000 cubic meters of spruce and pine timber. By April, we have already sold 30,000 cubic meters. This year’s exports will reach a record high figures if transportation costs maintain at a reasonable level.”
Statistics from Finnish Customs verify that exports to China are important to Finnish sawmills on a larger scale. In 2016, Finnish timber exports to China were over million cubic meters. Regarding spruce, China is a clear number one and in total exports it is third-largest. The rising standard of living in China is increasing interest in high quality timber. Finnish spruce is especially sought-after. The pale, sound-knotted and evenly-patterned Finnish spruce timber makes a perfect material for the needs of the furniture industry.
“Less than a half of ER-Saha’s production is spruce and the rest is pine. About 80% of our exports to China is spruce. However, we see a growth in the pine exports as well, especially this year,” Poutanen says.
ER-Saha has capacity to meet the growing demand of the Chinese market. The family-owned sawmill, located in Viitasaari, Central Finland, has invested over EUR 10 million during the last couple of years in its production facilities. In 2016, the turnover of the company was EUR 45 million. The sawmill directly employs about 50 people. If wood procurement, transportation and other subcontracting are taken into account, this figure can easily be tripled.
Wood from Finland supports
ER-Saha is a member of Wood from Finland, a national promotion program for Finnish sawn timber established in 2015 and managed by Finpro in cooperation with the Finnish Sawmills Association. The program has been operating for many years and has raised awareness of the quality of Finnish timber in China, made good contacts, arranged several meet-the-buyer events in China and brought Chinese buyers to Finland.
Poutanen is very pleased with the Wood from Finland program.
“We participated in a Team Finland business delegation, organized by Wood from Finland, to Shanghai in the fall 2015 and met potential clients, local decision-makers and made other important contacts. The program works well. Some buyers from countries where Wood from Finland has arranged meet-the-buyer events have contacted us, even if we ourselves have not had time to participate in those events.”
In addition to China, important export countries for the company are Egypt, Algeria, UK, Germany, Denmark and Japan.
“We have experience of various product and production demands from different countries. This has given us a solid basis to develop our activities and products to be versatile and meet different kinds of demand. We continue to invest strongly in development and exports,” Poutanen emphasizes.
Click on above image to see how ER-Saha operates.