The Slovenia Times

Slovenian wood industry profitable but should add value

Exclusive contentIndustry & Agriculture
The opening of the Days of Slovenian Wood Industry.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Slovenia is a country rich in timber, but the annual wood industry event heard that a shift should be made to focus on exporting finished and semi-finished products rather than logs, which have lower added value. The industry will also need to attract more young people.

Wood is a sustainable and renewable resource, whose processing requires much less energy than any other raw material, Economy Minister Matjaž Han said at the 24 May event in Laško hosted by the SPIRIT agency and the Economy Ministry that opened Days of Slovenian Wood Industry.

"Last year, the state allocated €35 million for the wood-processing industry for increasing its capacity, and €85 million in total. The state has also helped in other areas, such as human resources," the minister said. Any investment in the economy, sport and other projects pays back many times over in taxes, contributions, salaries, etc., he added.

The wood-processing industry has been performing well in recent years, which Han said was in part thanks to the increased role of the state. Exports in 2022 increased from €1.37 billion to just over €1.5 billion compared to the previous year, and the industry is profitable.

SPIRIT and the wood industry directorate at the Economy Ministry have been actively promoting Slovenian wood and wood products since 2013. "Our goal is to create a positive image of wood in the general and professional public and to raise awareness of its advantages," said Rok Capl, acting director of SPIRIT.

As part of the campaign Slovenians are encouraged to buy Slovenian wood products, while wood processing companies are urged to use this natural resource in a responsible way. Through cooperation with education institutions, wood-processing industry jobs are promoted among students.

Vesna Nahtigal, general manager of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said those jobs were the jobs of the future. Companies in the industry have been posting good results recently and in a few years the amount of wood processed rose from 1.5 million cubic metres to 2.1 million. Profit rose to €100 million in 2021, she said.

However, Slovenian industry has been facing a 10-20% drop in orders this year, and the wood-processing industry is no exception. "If major problems occur, we're also counting on state aid, especially for furlough, as we don't want to lose staff," Nahtigal said.

Most of the companies in the wood-processing industry are small, which means that many of them have failed to make the leap to expand, said Blaž Cvar, head of the Chamber of Crafts and Small Business. He pointed to the difficulties they face in obtaining raw materials.

"Slovenia is rich in timber, but small businesses have problems obtaining timber at a competitive price. The state-owned forestry company SiDG has raised the price of timber so much that it is cheaper to import, even taking into account transport costs," he said.


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