One of the Largest Furniture Manufacturers in the World Boycotts Russian and Belarusian Wood

Trade and Economics - February 8, 2023

The Famous Swedish Chain of Furniture Stores Will Now Only Accept Wood from Europe

The renowned company Ikea, manufacturer and seller of furniture all over the world for almost 80 years with a turnover of more than 40 billion, has openly sided against Russia and Belarus, its closest supporter, announcing the renunciation of wood from the two countries “hostiles” who, before the war, represented respectively the fifth and sixth supplier of wood for the company.

To compensate for the lack of wood supply, for the construction of its furniture, for packaging material and for communication, the Swedish brand has used wood coming mainly from its own territory and from the Baltic countries. Until last summer, Ikea used about 20 million cubic meters of wood for its production, asking for new supplies from countries where wood production is very active such as Germany, the Baltic countries and Poland, as well as Sweden, country where the brand was born. These solutions defined as “emergency” by the top management of the company, may become definitive in the event that there are no positive implications of the war currently underway between Russia and Ukraine.

The Swedish brand has recently published a map on its website, through which it is possible to verify the origin of the wood used in the production, available to customers in constant search for transparency. From the document it can be seen that the three major suppliers of wood, in the last year, until at least last August, were Poland, Lithuania and Sweden, capable of supplying, moreover, only certified or recycled wood, as required by the company. Ikea also undertakes to ask suppliers to guarantee that they themselves have not purchased wood from the 2 boycotted nations.

The famous brand with a yellow and blue sign closed all its direct stores on Russian territory already in March last year, keeping only the shopping centres under its management open while the 4 Inter Ikea factories remained closed and put up for sale. According to the top management consulted, Ikea’s entire wood procurement strategy will be reviewed within the year, also in view of the opening of other centres in South America where the Swedish company has only been present since 2022.

The wood market has undergone an apparently unjustified rise in prices in recent years but, due to the pandemic and the exponential increase in online purchases with the consequent increased need for packaging material, in recent months, the cost of wood seems to have calmed. The Swedish furniture manufacturing company, present in a large part of the world, manages entire forests for the internal production of wood which guarantees a sureness on the presence of raw material for the near future but, for the present, it needs help from other countries that export wood.

There are now many companies openly aligned against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and many are taking remedial measures in relation to the supply of raw materials that only Russia was able to guarantee. Along with the long-standing energy issue relating to Russian gas, which many nations hope to be able to do without as soon as possible to eliminate its commercial dependence, there are many materials and products that Russia has always exported and which, due to the conflict, is now unable to sell.

Whatever the outcome of the war in Ukraine, it will be essential for nations, especially European ones, to develop infrastructures capable of making up for the lack of imports from the Kremlin, through closer collaboration between states and constant development of technology capable of make each country finally independent of the Russian market.