Chemigate | Thousands of tonnes of starch

The modified starch factory in Lapua is a long-term partner of Blomberg Stevedoring.

Finnish company Chemigate Oy manufactures and sells modified starch-based binders and adhesives for technical use. The starch used as raw material is refined in Lapua or Kaipiainen and supplied to customers domestically and for export. Raw materials are also sourced both locally and from foreign suppliers. Chemigate and Blomberg, which operates in the port of Vaasa, have been working closely together on logistics for more than 40 years.

– The first ship carrying starch arrived in the port of Vaasa in the early 1980s, says Paavo Ahonen, Production Services Manager at Chemigate. At that time, a thousand tonnes of potato starch were unloaded directly from the ship into trucks and delivered to Lapua for storage.

Over the years, the logistics collaboration has evolved, and Blomberg has built extensive storage facilities for raw materials. At most, up to 12,000 tonnes of potato starch have been stored in bulk bags in the warehouse awaiting further processing. Export volumes of refined starch have also been significant, with over 50 000 tonnes of modified starch shipped from the port of Vaasa to a Portuguese paper mill between 1997 and 2003.

– This meant up to seven ships carrying two thousand tonnes of starch cargo per year,  Ahonen summarises.

Today, export volumes to Europe are more modest, and refined starch is delivered to customers by truck rather than by ship. Potato starch is put into storage in the autumn and used in production in the spring. In addition to potato starch, Chemigate uses barley and wheat starch as raw materials. Paavo Ahonen, who is retiring this year, has been involved in the operations of the Lapua factory since the early days. He’s been responsible for external warehouses throughout his career.

The collaboration with Blomberg has worked well from the beginning, says Ahonen. They have taken our storage needs into account, and we’ve always found the space we needed.

Starch used as a raw material doesn’t withstand impurities. So, in addition to storage space, Chemigate’s needs have been met at the port in Vaasa with its own, tailor-made equipment. As well as purity, timely delivery of raw materials is critical for production, which calls for good communication and flexibility from the actors in the logistics chain. According to Ahonen, operations have run
smoothly – even during the peak period, when production was running continuously in three shifts and raw material consumption was around 6 000 tonnes, or about 150 truckloads per month.

– In 2000, Kari and I organised carloads from the port of Vaasa at Midsummer,  Ahonen recalls. On Midsummer Eve, 12 loads of potato starch were loaded from the harbour, enough to last through the holidays.

By Kari, Ahonen is referring to Kari Seranto, terminal manager at Blomberg, who has also been involved in dealing with starch cargoes since the 1980s. Seranto sums up his longterm collaboration with Ahonen as follows:

– Paavo and I have worked well together, and what we’ve agreed on has been delivered. It’s been easy to agree on things with the factory because there’s a familiar contact person there who has been in the industry for a long time. On behalf of myself and the entire Blomberg staff, I wish Paavo a happy retirement!

Chemigate Oy

Chemigate Oy’s business in Lapua dates back to the late 1970s. At that time, Raisio Chemicals established Oy Kationi Ab in Lapua, where the production of modified starches began. Chemigate took over the starch business in 2010, and in 2021 the Finnish family-owned company Berner Oy became Chemigate’s largest owner.


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