The company goal of achieving “sustainable excellence” will not happen without a shift from good to excellent: exceeding our customers’ expectations, reaching an excellent level of performance in all operations, maintaining and developing the best personnel in the business, and being a forerunner with the courage to renew itself. To make this vision reality, all of us at Metsä Fibre have rolled up our sleeves and have been working towards these goals since the strategy was presented in mid-2018 by our management.
Looking back, the past year has been very eventful. Metsä Fibre increased its softwood market pulp production capacity to 2.4 million tonnes, following the successful start of the Äänekoski bioproduct mill. This reinforced our position as the world’s number one producer of softwood market pulp. In May, we announced a prefeasibility study to either rebuild or replace our northernmost mill in Kemi, with a decision expected in June 2019. Also, in May, Metsä Group established its innovation company Metsä Spring, followed by the announcement in October that Metsä Spring and Itochu have formed a joint venture and invested EUR 40 million to build a demo plant in Äänekoski.
Turning to the Asian market, the first half of the year was stable in terms of pulp pricing, with somewhat decreased paper prices, and adjusted pulp prices towards the end of the year. Also, on November 27, the Shanghai Futures Exchange began trading softwood futures as the first market in the world. And lastly, the year’s wrap-up must acknowledge the China-US trade war, even though Chinese exports to the US developed favourably and exceeded the level of 2017.
Included in our strategy statement, sustainability is the keyword that we, as an industry, should really highlight more, since we have an excellent story to tell. Paper-based products can help replace plastic materials, and even small actions such as the ban on plastic straws can surely help our globe to be more sustainable. All of us working within the wood-based bioeconomy are in an excellent position to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Wishing you an excellent and sustainable year of the pig 2019!
VP Sales Asia