Despite its vast forests full of an estimated 3 billion fir trees, Norway actually imports around 300,000 Christmas trees a year. Demanding shoppers reportedly think the imported trees, mostly from neighbouring countries, are better-proportioned and more stylish.
“One of the reasons is that consumers have strict demands regarding quality and appearance,” John-Anders Strande of the industry organization Norsk Juletre (Norwegian Christnas Trees) told newspaper Aftenposten this week.
He said that around a half-million fir trees were chopped down in conventional Norwegian forests for sale as Christmas trees just 10 to 15 years ago. This year only around 50,000 Norwegian fir trees were on sale before Christmas, and cut down in local forests.
Before that, it was also common for local farmers and forest owners to chop down small trees and sell them as Christmas trees. Demand for them has subsided, with Strande saying Norwegians now prefer well-proportined trees that won’t dry out so fast indoors.
He said Norwegian forest owners have been most keen to plant trees that grow quickly, but few of those are well-suited as Christmas trees. “A candidate for a Christmas tree needs more care and follow-up than a tree that will be used for timber,” he told Aftenposten. “Christmas tree production is more comparable to production of vegetables in terms of the work demanded. Plantation operations are best for production of Christmas trees.”
Most of the trees imported to Norway come from Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania and Germany. The most popular type is the edelgran, many of which come from as far away as Georgia. “They grow best in a coastal climate and do well in Denmark,” Strande said.
Norwegians who specialize in production of edelgran themselves tend to sell out, with Danish imports brought in to meet demand. Around 7,000 edelgran from the mountains of Norway are also being exported this year, though, mostly to the upscale Chelsea district of London. Once there, some of them sell for as much as NOK 2,000 (more than GBP 200) each.