Case 11.1: Borregaard - production of sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives to petrochemicals - Norway

Detailed Information

Name of the company: Borregaard

Country: Norway

Size of the business: 1 103 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees



Borregaard is a company with rich traditions and with the first industrial plants dating back to the 1600s. The modern industrial activities began with the English owned Kellner Partington Paper Pulp Company Ltd. in 1889. In 1918 Borregaard was taken over by Norwegian owners. The company built a cellulose factory near Sarpsfossen waterfall. This ushered in the era of modern industry with what would later become one of the largest industrial plants in Norway. Until the Second World War, Borregaard’s main products were cellulose and paper. Since then, production has been expanded to include a wide range of chemical products, and Borregaard has engaged in several important activities in other areas. In 1986, the two companies Orkla Industries and Borregaard merged into one company, Orkla Borregaard. When Orkla Borregaard merged with Nora Industries in 1992, the new company took the name Orkla, while the chemicals business area was kept under the Borregaard name. Sarpsborg remained the headquarters of Borregaard. On the 18th of October 2012, Borregaard was separated from Orkla and listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange (BRG).

Main activities

Borregaard produces advanced and environmentally friendly biochemicals that can replace oil-based products. Borregaard is organised in three business segments: 

  • Segment of performance chemicals develops, produces and sells lignin-based products used as binding and dispersing agents in a wide range of end-market applications, such as construction, industrial binders, agrochemicals and batteries. In addition, the performance chemicals segment includes trading of chemicals which are either linked to lignin-based products or have previously been produced by Borregaard;
  • Segment of speciality cellulose develops, produces and sells speciality cellulose mainly for use in the production of cellulose ethers, cellulose acetate and other speciality grades. The production and sale of second-generation bioethanol are also part of the speciality cellulose segment;
  • Other businesses consist of ingredients, fine chemicals and cellulose fibrils. Borregaard supplies vanillin products to flavour and fragrance companies, as well as to the food and beverage industry, and is the only producer of wood-based vanillin in the world. Fine chemicals are supplied to the pharmaceutical industry, and the company is the world’s largest supplier of intermediates for non-ionic X-ray contrast media. Cellulose fibrils consist of two product ranges: SenseFi for food products and Exilva for industrial applications. Other businesses also include sales of basic chemicals from the chlor-alkali production.

Company has a biorefinery in Sarpsborg, Norway and seven production sites outside Norway dedicated to producing lignin-based products. The company also has sales offices in 16 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas serving its global customer base.


Borregaard sells to industrial customers all over the world, and is a world leader in its corresponding industrial markets. The strong market position has been developed through in-depth understanding of its markets, production of advanced and specialised products and local presence in the form of a global sales and marketing organisation. 59% of revenues came from biosolutions, where 650 products are sold to around 3 ,000 customers. 34% revenues are from biomaterials, 7% from fine chemicals. Geographical distribution of sales for 2019: Europe – 50%, Asia – 21%, Americas – 28% (USA/Canada 23%, rest of Americas 5%), rest of the world – 1%. Approximately 90% of sales are handled through own organisation.

To maintain its leading position, Borregaard has a strong focus on training programmes and cooperation between the various disciplines and R&D. Approximately 13% of Borregaard’s revenues come from new products (average in the last 5 years).

Challenges and solutions

Borregaard is a publicly traded company, so anything related to strategy and growth intentions is only available on investor updates and the official strategic documents.


The company has a very long history and is a publicly traded at the Oslo Stock Exchange (BRG).

What makes this case innovative?

The Borregaad case is unique case, not only in the Nordics but in Europe. Unique Business Model with high value added through full utilisation of raw materials and production of several co-products. Production is sustainable (profit+environment) and environmentally friendly, and the products create alternative to petrochemicals. Borregaard’s niche products (biopolymers, specialty cellulose, cellulose fibrils, pharma intermediates, biovanillin) have applications in a wide range of end-markets including construction, agriculture, food and beverages, transport and pharmaceuticals.

Other related Business Cases

Case 11.2: Emsland Group – sustainability through ‘using nature to create’ – Germany

Case 8.1: Aloja Starkelsen – organic starch and plant-based products for home and industrial application – Latvia

Case 8.2: Lilli Agro – organic straw pellets for animal bedding – Estonia

Case 10.1: Est-Agar – sustainable enhancement of the red algae Furcellaria lumbricalis – Estonia

Case 10.2: SatiMed – wellness and health products from the hemp plant – Lithuania

Case 10.3: oceanBASIS – natural cosmetics and food from seaweed – Germany

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