Natural products are an important part of Finland’s bioeconomy resource
Natural products include wild berries, mushrooms, herbs and sap, ornamental plants, and raw materials for wellness and cosmetics products. The natural product sector differs from other agricultural and horticultural production with regard to the high share of exports: as much as half of the wild berries and mushrooms picked for sale is exported.
The Government steers the operations in the natural resources and natural product sectors as follows:
- Building an Intelligent and Responsible Natural Resource Economy, Government Natural Resources Report to the Parliament
- National Forest Strategy 2025
One of the objectives of the strategy is to achieve growth in diverse, forest-based business and in the natural product sector. Utilising the opportunities associated with natural products calls for innovation, internationalisation, more advanced technologies, and further development of entrepreneurship in the nature sector. Of the projects under the Forest Strategy especially the development of statistics is concerned with the natural product sector.
Inputs in the natural product sector
The support for enterprises and projects under the Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland (2014–2020) may be used to develop the natural product sector as well. Under the programme various information and cooperation projects and specific development actions concerning micro and small enterprises can be launched.
For more efficient project activities in the natural product sector subsidies are also granted for coordination projects that function as an umbrella for other projects concerned with natural products.
Natural products have economic and social significance
In good years Finnish households pick about 50 million kilos of wild berries and about 20 million kilos is picked on a commercial basis. The amount of wild mushrooms picked annually by households is 5–10 million kilos and about 1.5 million kilos is picked for sale. The commercial collection of wild herds for food, wellness and cosmetics industry products and in the nutrition sector is growing.
Collection of natural products under the so-called everyman’s right, or right of public access, provides earnings opportunities for all, including foreign pickers. There are hundreds of small first purchase and processing companies, with an employment effects of 2 000 – 3 000 person years and annual turnover of about 200 million euros. The total value of the traditional natural products of forests, berries, mushrooms and game, is hundreds of millions of euros per year.
Besides primary production, there are growth opportunities for business based on natural products in the food, biotechnology, cosmetics, and medicine and pharmaceutical industries. Natural products can also be combined with various kinds of wellness services and tourism. There is cross-sectoral cooperation and networking among different fields of business in the development of new, innovative forest-based products.