The COFCO Plaza shopping mall in Beijing specialises in luxury brands. Among the product range: beds from Hästens Sängar in Sweden.
In the town of Tidaholm, Swedish Match produces 250 million matches each day. Two per cent of production remains in Sweden and the other 98 per cent is exported. The list of export countries includes Puerto Rico, where the matches are sold under the brand name Three Stars.
Located on the Västgöta plain is Tidaholm, a town with a population of just over 8,000. It is also the location of a match factory that supplies 80 countries throughout the world. In Puerto Rico, the matches are sold under the brand name Three Stars, which has been in existence since 1887 and was marketed throughout whole of the British Empire. On their journey to Puerto Rico the matches pass through the Port of Gothenburg.
Creating fire has always been crucial to the survival of mankind. And yet it was not until the 19th century that safety matches were invented. Safety matches are a Swedish innovation and there are currently production facilities in both Sweden and Brazil. Freight bound for every corner of the world begins its journey in the small town of Tidaholm in Västergötland.
First by road from Tidaholm to Falköping
The matches are placed into boxes, which are then made up into larger packages, each containing either eight or ten boxes. The packages are then loaded into containers.
The containers are driven from the factory in Tidaholm to Falköping by truck.
30 kilometres is the distance between Tidaholm and Falköping. The journey takes half an hour.
The truck carrying the matches reaches the Skaraborg Logistics Center combiterminal in Falköping. On arrival at the terminal, the containers are loaded on board a rail shuttle bound for the Port of Gothenburg.
For a number of years, the Port of Gothenburg has invested in rail shuttles that link the port to inland terminals in towns and cities throughout Sweden and Norway. The concept is known as Railport Scandinavia. The system includes 25 daily container shuttles and several conventional trains carrying export products such as timber and steel.
The trains depart five days a week and the journey to the Port of Gothenburg takes two hours.
The last leg of the journey before arriving in Gothenburg is along the Port Line. This 10-kilometre line is a key component in the Swedish transport infrastructure and links industry throughout Sweden to the Port of Gothenburg and the world.
The train carrying the matches arrives at the container terminal – APM Terminals – at the Port of Gothenburg. The containers are then lifted on board one of MSC’s ships for their onward journey.
After four days, the matches make a stop in Bremerhaven in Germany, where they are transferred to a larger ship.
Bremerhaven is one of Europe’s biggest container ports. It handles almost five million containers each year.
After 17 days, the next stop for the matches on their long journey is at Manzanillo International Terminal in Panama, where they are reloaded onto yet another ship.
It then takes six days from Panama to Puerto Rico across the Caribbean.
After 38 days of travelling, the matches arrive at the port of San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico in the West Indies. Swedish Match matches are sold in grocery stores and kiosks throughout the whole of Puerto Rico. Three Stars matches are sold both to companies and the general public to light fires, candles or tobacco products.
Did you know?
Swedish Match has been producing matches under the brand Three Stars since 1887. The number three, with its sense of happiness or with his spiritual or biblical relevance, was common in the matchbox labels during the 1800s. The word and symbol star is traditionally associated with high quality.
From Sweden to the West Indies
The matches travel a total of 12,000 km before finally reaching the store shelves. During the course of their journey, 1 g of CO2 per box of matches is emitted. For 98 per cent of the journey, the matches are in containers, which are a highly efficient means of transporting freight and emissions per box/kilometre travelled are low.
Shipping is energy efficient compared with road transport. If the matches had been transported by road, they would have only come as far as Paris in France before reaching the same level of carbon dioxide emissions.