Forest sector continues to drive the Finnish (bio)economy
In the 2010s, the output and value added generated by the Finnish bioeconomy sector have changed at almost the same rate as the national economy on average. In 2016, the bioeconomy made up 16 percent of the total output of, and of 12 percent of the value added to, the national economy. The fastest growth is found in renewables and chemicals according to figures published by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
The forest industry has maintained its position as the main pillar of the bioeconomy, although higher growth percentages were achieved in other sectors, such as renewable energy production and the chemical industry. According to Luke, bioeconomy products represented almost one-third of goods exported from Finland, and within the bioeconomy, forest products alone make up more than 70 percent of the total value.
The aggregate output of bioeconomy sectors amounted to EUR 64.4 billion in 2016, an increase of seven percent from the previous five-year period in real terms. Together, forestry and the forest industry made up 38 percent, while the food sector which includes agriculture and the food industry, made up 24 percent of the total output.
Of the total value added to the bioeconomy − EUR 22.1 billion in 2016 −, the food and forest sectors represented more than half. The highest growth rates in both of these indicators were achieved in the chemical industry, production of renewable energy and the pharmaceutical industry.
Investments in the bioeconomy have increased more than investments on average. That creates the prerequisites for the growth of the bioeconomy in the next few years, commented Martti Aarne, a leading specialist at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
In 2016, bioeconomy investments totalled EUR 5.3 billion, which is 22 percent higher in real terms than during the preceding five-year period. At the level of the national economy, the increase remained at 11 percent. Agriculture and the food industry accounted for 30 percent of all bioeconomy investments and the forest sector for 26 percent. The investments in agriculture and renewable energy both amounted to EUR 1.1 billion in 2016.
Bioeconomy jobs declined
The number of people employed in the bioeconomy has been declining throughout the 2010s, and in 2016, a total of 304,000 people worked in the bioeconomy sectors. This development has been contrary to that experienced in the national economy on average.
The decrease is, above all, due to the declining trend in the labour force in agriculture and the forest industry. However, employment has increased in other areas such the energy sector and nature tourism.
It seems that the employment goals of the National Bioeconomy Strategy are becoming increasingly remote, Martti Aarne remarked.
According to the Finnish Bioeconomy Strategy, drawn up in 2014, the growth of the bioeconomy and its significance in the national economy are monitored using indicators provided by Statistics Finland. The calculations of bioeconomy output, value-added, investments, employment and exports in 2010−2016 are presented by sector. The national accounts were used as the main information source.
In addition to national bioeconomy monitoring activities, Luke is currently leading a project entitled “The synthesis on bioeconomy monitoring systems in the EU Member States”, which is aimed at developing a standardized set of bioeconomy monitoring indicators. The results will be published in April 2018.