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The number of people employed in the bioeconomy increased in 2021 – total value added driven by the forest sector

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7.10.2022

The bioeconomy accounted for 17 per cent of the output of the Finnish national economy and 12 per cent of the value added in 2021. The percentages have remained nearly unchanged for the past ten years. Finland’s bioeconomy is still strongly based on the forest sector whose percentage of the output and value added of the bioeconomy increased to 35 per cent. The number of people employed returned almost to the pre-pandemic level.

According to preliminary data, the total value added of the bioeconomy was EUR 27 billion in 2021. It decreased by one per cent from the previous year in real terms (*deflated using the wholesale price index). The total value added of the bioeconomy decreased in nearly all sectors except for the forest and energy sectors which showed a positive trend.

Photo: Erkki Oksanen

The bioeconomy output volume increased by three per cent to EUR 78.7 billion. The bioeconomy accounted for 17 per cent of the total output of the national economy.

An excellent year in the forest sector

Value added in the forest sector increased by ten per cent from the previous year. In the wood products industries, value added increased exceptionally by as much as 55 per cent year-on-year. This increase is largely attributable to the significant increase in prices for exported sawn goods.  In the pulp and paper industries, the increase in value added was more moderate at nine per cent.

"The forest sector alone, consisting of forestry and the wood products, pulp and paper industries, accounted for 35 per cent of the total value added of the bioeconomy, and its percentage has not changed significantly in recent years", says Tiina Sauvula-Seppälä, senior statistician at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

A steep decline in the food sector

The food sector, consisting mainly of agriculture and the food industry, accounted for 16 per cent of the total value added of the bioeconomy, showing a decrease of two percentage points from the previous year. The total value added of the food sector decreased by 15 per cent from the previous year in real terms. The small cereal harvest in 2021 was one of the factors behind the weak situation in agriculture. As a result, value added in agriculture was a quarter lower than in the previous year.

The number of people employed decreased the most in agriculture

Last year, sectors in the bioeconomy employed 302,800 people, corresponding to 11 per cent of the total labour force. Even though the number of people employed in the bioeconomy increased by 4,100 from the previous year, the growth rate was slower than in the national economy as a whole. 

Agriculture remained the largest employer in the bioeconomy with 64,700 people employed, even though the number has decreased steadily. The number of people employed also continued to decrease in the pulp and paper industries. However, the number of people employed increased in other bioeconomy sectors.

Bioeconomy services employed 34,400 people, up by nine per cent from the pre-pandemic level. Year-on-year, the number of people employed increased the most in the food industry, wood products industries, construction, and bioeconomy services. These employed a total of 5,000 people.

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* Changes in the monetary value are based on the wholesale price index. In 2021, wholesale prices increased by an average of nine per cent from the previous year.


Key terms

  • Output at basic price consists of products produced during a calendar year. Output is itemised into three types: market output, output for own use and other non-market output. Non-market output is not taken into account in bioeconomy calculations.
  • Value added (gross) refers to the total value generated by units engaged in a production activity. In market production, it is calculated by deducting from the unit’s output the intermediates (goods and services).
  • Employed persons in national accounts include all persons drawing a salary and independent entrepreneurs who participate in production activities in the national economy. The statistics are more comprehensive than in workforce surveys, because no age limits are defined for employed persons in national accounts, and men and women doing their national service, for example, are counted as employed persons.
  • Output volume means data from which the impact of price changes has been removed.