COOPID ambassadors visit to Finland: Valio Group & the Finnish Forest Centre
On the last 14th & 15th of September 2022, COOPID Ambassadors from different EU countries visited Valio Group and the Finnish Forest Centre in Oulu, Finland. Respectively, they are great examples of circularity and sustainability in the dairy and forestry sectors.
Pictures & event details
Dairy showcase visit – Valio Group
Valio is a Finland-wide dairy company with around 4,000 dairy farmers who own the company through 13 cooperatives. The company was founded in 1905 and today, it is the biggest food company in Finland buying approximately 80% of Finnish milk, which equals 1,8 billion litres annually. Valio’s products are sold in 60 countries. All profits are paid to the farmers.
On Thursday 15th of September, 39 people from 10 different countries were visiting this flagship case from Finland. Valio has an ambitious goal of being carbon neutral by the year 2035. For that, a strong strategy with specific actions is in place.
The day began with an introductory presentation by Senior Advisor Ritva Isomäki from Council of Oulu Region providing an overview of Finland’s Bioeconomy Strategy and bioeconomy industry especially from the viewpoint of Northern Ostrobothnia. The day continued with the presentation of Valio’s showcase:
- First, the Valio team presented this strategy, giving a focus on biogas, which represents 15 % of the expected carbon reduction in the next year for the company.
- Then, a visit to a farm producing biogas as oil for cars and trucks was organised. In this farm, manure and residues (mainly grass) are used by the biogas plant to fill biogas stations for vehicles, both made by the company Demeca Ltd. Then, COOPID ambassadors visited a second farm, which was a clear & direct example of the use of the Valio Carbo® Farm tool to calculate and reduce GHG emissions directly on the farms (the calculator monitors the farms´ carbon balance and provides direction for reducing emissions).
All in all, the experience helped participants imagine new local mobile value chains working along with large-scale biogas production and distribution initiatives. A system that combines scattered and centred biogas production initiatives – based on farm manure, field biomasses and food industry waste streams (e.g. dairy) in cooperation with an energy company. In addition, it was an opportunity for dairy farmers to identify specific actions to reduce their companies‘ emissions.
Forestry showcase – The Finnish Forest Centre
Finland is a country of forests that cover more than 75% of the land area. Measured by the proportional share of forest land, Finland is the most forested country in Europe with a total of 20.3 million hectares available for wood production. The country has the fifth largest wood resources in Europe after Russia, France, Sweden and Germany. Private forest owners (many of which are farmers) own 60%, the state owns 26%, companies (incl. the forest industry) own 9% and others own 5% of Finland’s forest land. The forest industry purchases as much as 80% of the domestic wood from private forest owners, thus making it an important source of income also for many farmers.
On Wednesday 14th of September, 33 people from 7 countries were discovering the organisation of the Finnish wood sector.
- As a first step in the visit, the Public Relations Director of The Finnish Forest Centre delivered an introduction about the Finnish forestry sector and forest management in Northern Finland.
- Then, Stora Enso, one of the biggest companies in the wood sector, gave a presentation linked with a mill visit. This was an opportunity to discover the company’s strategy, its new products from wood and innovative products such as lignin-based batteries, Oulu mill production and wood supply operations of the company. To get a full understanding of the wood supply chains, a logging site visit was organised to discover and talk about the viewpoints of both the forest harvesting companies and forest owners selling the wood.
- The afternoon was focused on multi-purpose management and on the use of forests. Afternoon activities started with an introduction to the non-wood forest products sector, and the use of wood as energy with Volter’s solution to produce electricity and heat locally. Then, it also covered topics such as forestry research with Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and the Metsään.fi service. Finally, The Finnish Forest Centre introduced its free transaction service for forest owners and forest service providers.
In a nutshell, this day was an opportunity to create links between stakeholders in different countries; to inspire, improve and share knowledge.