A former prime minister of Finland once blamed Apple Inc. for the first time in the world.
Now Stora Enso Oyj, one of Europe's largest paper and packaging makers, has become a key supplier to the iPhone maker, according to documents published last week.
The tie-up was not always on the cards. In 2014, then prime minister Alexander Stubb accused of the iPad of killing Finland's paper industry, which is dominated by Stora and UPM-Kymmene Oyj. “We have two champions which went down,” said Stubb, referring to the paper industry and the demise of local champion Nokia Oyj.
While Nokia is no longer rivalling Apple as a phone-maker, Stora has not done that badly. Since Stubb publicly lamented its fate, Stora's shares are up 150%.
Created by a merger of Sweden's Stora AB and Finland's Enso Oyj in 1998, the company has spent billions shifting from the declining paper business – as people are increasingly switched to digital from printed newspapers – to focusing on innovative wrappings made from tree and plant fibres. More than a third of its sales.
Apple has undergone its own shift, away from plastic packaging. For its recent iPhone 8 launch, Apple used a fiber-alternative instead of the polypropylene wrap around the power adapter. The packaging for the iPhone 7 used 84% less plastic than the previous version.
Spokespeople from Stora and Apple declined to comment on the details of the deal between the two companies.
However, winning a contract with Apple gives Stora access to a customer that sells around 75 million iPhones a quarter, all ongoing packaging.
It's unclear which supplier has been replaced by Stora. Every year Apple lists its top suppliers, and companies including Shenzhen Yuto Packaging Technology Co., Ltd. remain on the list. Regardless, the current deal is likely to be sizable. This year is the first time Stora has made the list since Apple began it in 2012.
The three Stora factories supplying Apple are based in China, where most of the US tech company's products are assembled. China's push will “significantly” boost sales growth at Stora Enso's Consumer Board and Packaging Solutions divisions, chief executive officer Karl-Henrik Sundstrom told Bloomberg in February. – Bloomberg