2-3 December, 2019 - Dubrovnik (Srebreno, Hotel Sheraton)

Adriatic Wood Days 2018: Croatia has Knowledge and Quality Raw Material for World Competitive Wood Products

Croatian forestry and wood processing industry grows and achieves excellent export results year after year, but for the sake of greater use of a single quality raw material such as Slavonian oak, it is necessary to additionally brand the entire industry as well as the final products themselves into a unique, recognizable export product, but more active role of the government is expected.

This is the main message sent from the Adriatic Wood Days, organized by the Croatian Wood Cluster.

The well-known Croatian journalistic authority Goran Milic actively participated at the conference programme by comparing branding of the forest-based sector through history and in the media with other industries. So far, in the institutional sense, we have not created an environment for branding, but there are some prospects for creating greater value added, because the world market is looking for quality and recognizable final products, while Croatia is still exporting high quality raw materials.

More than 150 participants in two days discussed topics related to EU funds, emphasizing the increasing role of biomass in energy. The highlight was put on up-to-date information on European projects, novelties and successful regional projects. The great attention attracted company Artisan from Bosnia and Herzgovina, which produces expensive furniture from beech and walnut, achieving up to 20 times the added value compared to the input raw material prices. The brand new Croatian brand Milla & Milli made of luxury massive oak is striving for the same.

Numerous participants have also emphasized the main constraints in education and transfer of knowledge, as well as the low interest of sectoral staff and young professionals in the woodworking industry. Inevitable are the issues of importing the labor force, because already only in Croatia, the wood industry can employ more than 3,000 workers of different qualification structures, and most of all there is a highly educated workforce that has emigrated and works at the factories of Western Europe.

Prof. Dragan Kovačević, Vice President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy for Agriculture and Tourism, pointed out that the results of this sector are truly impressive, because in spite of the overall decline in industrial production, this sector has achieved continuous growth in production, investment, and export revenues, which are now 1.1 billion EUR.

Increasing competitiveness in the international market is crucial in the coming period, as the wood processing industry generates over 70 percent of its revenues abroad, which is unthinkable without enormous investments in marketing and opening new markets, and in that part the central state must work more actively with the sector, stressed numerous panelists through six discussions.

The conference was opened by Krunoslav Jakupčić, CEO of Croatian Forests Ltd as the envoy of the President of the Republic of Croatia. Croatian forests insist on sustainable forest management, emphasized Jakupčić. The company will invest in technological advances over the next two years more than in the last 30 years and thus increase the available raw material and in part mitigate the need for labor force.

In intensive interaction with international lecturers, participants disscused the availability of raw materials, that is, the possibilities for mobilizing additional quantities, which, according to some companies, are insufficient. Understanding the needs of buyers, Croatian forests want to increase the available amount of wood raw materials, but at the same time they are working to increase the wood supply, through sustainable and responsible forest management, and are open to continuing the agreement with the sector about further transparency of the distribution of existing quantities of timber.