Delivering the necessities in pandemic times

Published 8 April 2020
In a short time, the coronavirus has forced us to rethink many everyday things we’ve previously taken for granted. Working, moving, eating and shopping are suddenly not what they used to be. And yet, even in the most difficult of times, basic needs must be met; people need food, drink, and medication.

In the early days of the pandemic, an immediate reaction from many was hoarding – building up a home reserve of toilet paper, pasta, beer and painkillers. Since then, retailers have been trying to ensure us all that goods will not run out. But will they after all?

A key question is what happens if there are disruptions in supply chains, or if goods cannot be delivered. Some supply chains are complex, and goods can travel long distances with several companies involved in the production. According to The Economist, it is estimated that a cup of coffee, for example, requires 29 companies to collaborate across 18 countries. But the good news is that many daily necessities are produced locally, close to us, requiring much shorter supply chains. Stora Enso has an important role in delivering these necessities.

Safe and hygienic packaging for food and beverages

Let’s take milk as an example. Stora Enso is a major producer of liquid packaging board used, for example, in milk and juice cartons. It takes Stora Enso less than 24 hours to produce enough liquid packaging board for a large customer to cover one month’s supply of gable-top milk cartons. There are typically three main partners in the supply chain for milk from farm to supermarket: dairy company, packaging company also known as converter, and packaging materials provider. And while there are different steps in the chain before milk packages are filled and sent to supermarkets, these operations are kept running also during the coronavirus outbreak.

In many countries, packaging, and especially food packaging, is defined as a key or critical industry. The role and purpose of packaging – protecting food and pharmaceuticals during transportation and in supermarket shelves – is now as important as ever.

Delivering food from farmers to supermarkets – and to your doorstep

Stora Enso is also a significant producer of renewable corrugated board; material for packages that takes food, vegetables and berries from farmers to supermarkets and consumers. In Finland, about half of the corrugated packaging for food is produced by Stora Enso, and we play a big role in ensuring food security for all. We also produce corrugated packaging that will deliver food from the grocery store to your doorstep, or clothes, hygienic products and other necessities from e-retailers to your home.

In Finland alone, Stora Enso produces corrugated board an amount that would cover 18 000 football fields. We are able to deliver, so that your supermarket can deliver to you.

Ensuring raw materials for hygiene products and tissue papers

Stora Enso plays a key role in supplying pulp for products such as diapers, sanitary pads, healthcare products, absorbent towels, napkins, and various types of pads to absorb fluid. As Europe’s largest fluff pulp manufacturer, we can serve local markets efficiently. In addition, Stora Enso’s pulp from sustainably managed forests goes to tissue manufacturers who are currently coping with higher demand for consumer tissue such as toilet paper and handkerchiefs.

Renewable materials will not run out

Ensuring that food, medicine, and hygienic products get delivered to people, is based on a material that will not run out. Renewable materials grow back and are widely recycled. And as we are talking about high volumes of packaging, it really matters where all these materials come from and where they go after use. In these unpredictable times, our duty is to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues, and to keep our business up and running, while not compromising sustainability.