Interview: Juha Peltomäki, programme director at Wood for Finland

Interview: Juha Peltomäki, programme director at Wood for Finland
Published: 13 March 2017 - noon
By: Namitha Madhu

A group of companies from Finland took part in the recent Dubai Wood Show, which was held from March 7 to 9, as part of the Finnish government export programme called Wood From Finland.

The programme launched by the Finnish trade promotion organisation Finpro in collaboration with the Finnish Sawmills Association, is financed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland and the participating sawmills.

Juha Peltomäki, programme director at Wood for Finland, gives us an overview of Finnish wood, its demand in the Middle East, and why it decided to take part in the Wood Show this year.


Can you tell us something about Wood from Finland?

Wood from Finland is a national export promotion programme, which helps Finnish private sawmills to find new markets and new customers. The programme includes 20 Finnish sawmills, which are all strongly involved in the programme operations. The yearly production capability of the sawmills in the programme is 6mn cubic metres. Wood from Finland is managed by Finnish trade promotion organisation Finpro.


What makes Finnish wood different from the rest?

Finland is one of the best areas in the world for growing good-quality timber. Finland belongs to the cold climatic belt in which sub-zero winters alternate with warm summers. The summer season lasts only 100 days, during which the trees grow. The short growing season means slow growth.

The slow growth provides the best possible straight-grained timber: branches are few, and those that exist are small. Due to few branches Finnish glued laminated timber is exceptionally strong material.

Growth is symmetrical and trunks are straight and round. Growth rings are thin and tightly-packed. The amount of juvenile wood is small and heartwood great. The result is a hard, tough and straight-grained timber with low internal tension and a few cracks. The low-resinous, evenly patterned Finnish wood is first-class material for many purposes.

Due to its beautiful structure and appearance, Finnish softwood is very popular all over the world, especially in visible end-use applications, such as interiors and furniture.


Who are your target customers?

Our target customers include construction industry, tourism facilities, wood processing industries (such as door and window manufacturing) and furniture industry. We see all manufacturing, which values the beautiful appearance of wood, very potential for Finnish wood.


What made you take part in the Wood show this year? What are you hoping to take away from the event?

In Middle East exported wood is widely used in manufacturing and the growth prospects are good. In United Arab Emirates tourism has developed very fast and there might be interesting possibilities in utilising Finnish wood in the tourism projects. As Finnish wood has excellent visual properties and strength it would be an excellent material to be utilised in different types in buildings. PEFC certified Finnish wood is also very environment friendly. 

Finland is the fourth largest wood exporter and countries in the GCC countries have been important export market. Previously Iraq has been significant market and we are also interested in Iran due to developing trade.

We decided to participate to Dubai Wood Show because we considered it as excellent venue for meeting wood industry in the area. We have heard very positive feedback also from other countries about the event. Previously Finnish sawmills have been operating in the area only through exporting companies. In order to see the market themselves, to get relevant market insight and to build business partnerships decision makers of private Finnish sawmills are now joining Dubai Wood Show.


What kind of wood or wood products is Finland exporting?

Finland exports sawn timber, glued laminated timber, timber structures and materials for interiors.


How is the demand for wood and wood products from the Middle East?

Finnish wood is popular among GCC countries and there is growing demand. Among GCC countries Saudi-Arabia is the most important export country, although we have exports also to others.


Do you have offices in Dubai? Are you planning to open any soon?

Finnish trade promotion agency Finpro has office in Dubai. Wood from Finland program is managed by Finpro.


How widespread is the use of Finnish wood in the Middle East’s, and particularly in Dubai’s, construction sector? Do you foresee a growth in demand from the region?

Finnish wood is widely used in Middle East. In Europe the awareness of sustainability has increased the share of wood used as building material. We foresee that the trend will expand also to Middle East. Also the requirements to speed up the construction processes have increased the amount of wood used.


As an institution that makes use of the earth’s natural resources, does Wood from Finland undertake any green or sustainability measures?

Finnish forests are almost entirely PEFC certified. Due to the excellent forest management practises, the growth of forests exceeds the harvesting. It would be possible to increase the amount of forest used considerably without compromising the sustainable development.


What is the value of Finnish wood exports to the Middle East countries?

The value of Finnish wood exports to the Middle East countries is almost 400 million euros.

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