Spotlight: Finnish enterprises to bring pulp, dairy and family entertainment to China expo

by Xinhua writer Li Jizhi

HELSINKI, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — A score of Finnish companies will attend the China International Import Expo (CIIE) to be held in Shanghai from Nov. 5 to 10, showcasing Nordic values in sustainability, creativity and responsibility.

Led by the telecommunication giant Nokia, the delegation comprises renowned wood-based products suppliers, food industry pioneers, engineering enterprises and high-tech service providers, etc.

Ahead of their departure to Shanghai, some management team members revealed to Xinhua their prospects for the Chinese market and expressed their commitment to engage in full scale business in the Asian country, despite the growing protectionism in parts of the world. They believe that China’s massive consumer market with increasing demands for high quality goods provides huge potential for Finnish enterprises.

At the expo, Finnish bio-product producer Metsa Group will sign an agreement with Chinese shipping company COSCO to strengthen their cooperation, the group’s President and CEO Ilkka Hamala said.

The group is growing all its businesses in China, and a senior Chinese executive has been recruited to represent the whole group in Shanghai. In the upcoming exhibition, Metsa Group wants to present “who we are and what all products we have to offer to the Chinese market,” said Hamala.

Metsa Group is now the biggest softwood pulp supplier in China. About 15 percent of its total revenue, or over 1 billion euros (1.15 billion U.S. dollars), comes from the Chinese market annually.

The company Metsa Fibre exported approximately 1 million tons of pulp to the Asian country, while the number was 60,000 tons in 2004 when it began its sales in China.

When the company’s pulp exports to China stabilized at 700,000 tons annually about five years ago, the production capacity reached its limit. Metsa Group decided to build a new mill in Aanekoski, central Finland to enlarge the capacity. The increased trade has benefited the Chinese customers and Finnish forest owners as well, said Hamala.

China is by far the fastest growing market on the company’s global map, according to Hamala. China already exceeds European countries as the biggest pulp export market for Metsa Group, which requires very efficient and reliable logistics. “That’s why we want to strengthen the cooperation with COSCO for example.”

Besides pulp products, Metsa Group is trying to secure a wider customer base for solid wood products. New kind of wood based textile fibers are under development and potentially soon available for sale as well.

Having engaged in B to B business for about 30 years with China, Finnish leading dairy company Valio has been exploring the consumer market there. Valio branded milk powder and UHT (Ultra Heat Treated) milk products are available both in e-commerce shops and international supermarkets in the Shanghai area, said Timo Pajari, senior vice president of Valio.

Facing the highly competitive market in China, Valio will focus on the premium segment which “are valuing the highest quality, the best innovation,” said Pajari.

In Shanghai, Valio wants to attract new customers by presenting some innovative products to the market, Pajari said, adding that “for us, this is a good window to show our capabilities and safe products with good benefits.”

As the first in the world to launch ready-to-feed (RTF) baby food, Valio also sees opportunities for its unique RTF baby food in China.

“Chinese consumers are extremely demanding, they appreciate the quality and purity, and they want to know where the product is coming from,” said Pajari. He considers Chinese consumer expectations as an opportunity for Valio to expand its business in China.

Established 113 years ago, Valio is a cooperative owned by 5,000 farms across Finland. “The more higher value products and more premium products you can develop, the more it also benefits the Finnish farmers,” he said.

Lappset Creative, a division of the Lappset Group which designs and builds visitor attractions like theme parks, has designed the world’s first Peppa World of Play in Shanghai’s Pudong District.

Miia Tahtinen, China country manager of Lappset Creative, was there for the opening day of the 1,000-square-meter big indoor park located in a shopping mall.

Talking from Shanghai to Xinhua over telephone, she sounded proud of the world famous cartoon landing in the Chinese city. “You just go in and it is like you were in the cartoon,” she said.

Tahtinen said China will become the world’s largest market for family entertainment in two years according to industry insiders. She believes it means great opportunity for Lappset, which has renowned reputation in safety and creativity when designing facilities.

By attending the expo, Tahtinen hopes she will meet existing partners and potential customers, and will have the chance to discuss safety issues with decision makers.

Chinese parents also demand creativity. “The way we design our product is when you play them, you develop your creativity,” Tahtinen said. “The time of cheap China is over, and people want real quality and real value. That’s why we really believe we have a rosy future in China.”

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