As it stands, IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer, best known for its affordable flat-packed furniture. It features stores in over 52 countries and meets the furnishing needs of thousands of people.
The sheer size of the company, the regions it covers, and the availability of raw materials demands that IKEA manufactures its furniture in various locations. Right now, most of its furniture is manufactured in selected Asian and European countries.
IKEA originated in Sweden and began its manufacturing and distribution of furniture locally. Product designs are still created there, however, now the company primarily sources materials and manufactures its goods in Asia and Europe, with China and Poland being the largest contributors.
IKEA Is a Company Originating in Sweden
IKEA’s founding came at the hands of Ingvar Kamprad, in 1943. Kamprad was born and bred in Sweden, so it’s not far-fetched that IKEA started operations in Kamprad’s country of residence.
A Brief History
In 1943, Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA with the little sum his father gifted him for doing well in school. The name IKEA is an abbreviation of the first letters of his name (Ingvar Kamprad), his family farm (Elmtaryd), and his village (Agunnaryd). Even to date, most IKEA items are given Scandinavian names.
The company was initially a mail-order business, selling household goods like wallets, pens, and picture frames. But in 1948, a furniture line was introduced to the IKEA brand. From the start, the company aimed to provide affordable furniture to residents. So, Kamprad would buy furniture from local manufacturers and sell them at a slightly higher rate.
While still selling via mail order, IKEA opened its first showroom in 1953. In 1965, its first store was launched in Almhult, Sweden. And since then IKEA has built 458 stores in over 52 countries.
Flat-packed furniture was introduced in 1953 to help the company reduce the stress and hassle of transporting assembled items, which are usually bulky and prone to damage.
Is the Furniture Made in Sweden?
In 1991, IKEA founded its manufacturing subsidiary, Swedwood, which is responsible for manufacturing and distributing its furniture. The company is headquartered in Sweden, making the Scandinavian country a key player in the organization’s affairs.
However, most of the manufacturing does not take place in Sweden. But all of IKEA’s furniture is still designed in Sweden.
By the 1950s, IKEA was selling furniture at prices lower than that of other distributors, causing many Swedish retailers to feel threatened. So, they put pressure on furniture suppliers to boycott IKEA. The actions even extended to restricting Kamprad from attending furniture fairs or exhibiting his products, forcing IKEA to look elsewhere for suppliers.
This pushed IKEA to forge connections with international furniture manufacturers, starting with those in Denmark and Poland and then expanding to other regions. It was also during this period that the company started making its own furniture designs, inspired by classy Scandinavian styles.
The majority of the manufacturing takes place in certain Asian and Eastern European countries. China alone accounts for nearly a quarter of IKEA’s product manufacturing.
Although IKEA’s manufacturing materials are also primarily sourced from Europe and Asia, some of its wood still comes from Sweden.
A Lot of Manufacturing Is Done in China
While IKEA is a Swedish company, like many other businesses it outsources the manufacturing of its furniture to other countries.
China is currently one of the largest manufacturing bases in the world. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the bulk of IKEA’s furniture is manufactured in China. In fact, approximately 22% of their product range is made in China.
One of the key features of IKEA’s furniture is the localization of its products. Before introducing a product range, they conduct research to ensure that it is best suited for the targeted region. The furniture that is made in China isn’t only targeted at the Chinese markets but includes the production of specialized goods designed and targeted at foreign markets.
One of IKEA’s major selling points is the affordability of its furniture. For this to be possible, a lot of factors come to play, two of which are the proximity to raw materials and labor cost. China is one of the countries that IKEA sources its wood from and production isn’t as costly as some other regions, making China a top option for IKEA.
The quality of products is ensured by IWAY standard, which is IKEA’s code of conduct that governs the quality of services and materials offered by manufacturers.
Other Major Contributors
On its website, IKEA states that it collaborates with approximately 1600 suppliers, spread across different countries.
Wood is IKEA’s most used material, which makes timber sourcing one of the major aspects of its production process. In fact, IKEA is most likely the largest consumer of wood in the world.
Although other countries source wood, especially for local manufacturing, the countries that IKEA sources most of its wood from include:
I established earlier that a lot of IKEA’s furniture is made in China. However, there are other countries where IKEA makes furniture on a large scale, for local and foreign consumption.
Here are the countries that account for manufacturing most of IKEA’s furniture:
Poland IKEA Manufacture Their Own Furniture
IKEA’s history with Poland dates back to the late 1950s when they became one of IKEA’s first foreign collaborators.
Poland is currently the second-largest producer of IKEA furniture and the largest manufacturer of IKEA’s wooden furniture.
Swedwood, the branch of IKEA that focuses on the manufacturing of wood-based furniture has its largest factory in Southern Poland.
In 2019, up to 28% of the raw materials used for IKEA’s furniture came from Poland.
The Polish branch of IKEA Industries features an organized supply chain, starting from production and going the whole way through to distribution and sales. The structure might have a part to play in the fact that Poland currently features the cheapest IKEA furniture prices in the world.
IKEA has a huge market in Poland, with 11 stores and over a dozen pickup locations for online shopping. So, apart from being a base where furniture is manufactured and packaged for exportation, furniture is also made for internal consumption. This makes sense because it’s better to produce internally than to incur all of the additional expenses that manufacturing items abroad would attract.
Although the IKEA furniture used in Poland is manufactured within the country, the designs are still usually made in Sweden.
IKEA Furniture From Different Regions: 4 Examples
Since IKEA doesn’t state the country where products are manufactured on product packaging, it might be difficult to find out the country of origin for the IKEA products you intend to buy. However, here are some popular IKEA products and their countries of origin:
1. Voxlov Bamboo Chair (China)
Ikea sources raw materials from China, and one material that is almost exclusively sourced from China is bamboo. In fact, more than 90% of the bamboo used by IKEA is sourced in China.
2. Hemnes Dresser (Poland)
Most of the products manufactured in Poland are wood-based. The dresser is constructed from solid pine and fiberboard and is currently one of the most popular IKEA furniture manufactured in Poland.
3. Billy Bookcase (Sweden)
The Billy bookcase is one of IKEA’s fan favorites. The bookcase was first designed in 1979. Since then over 60 million units have been sold worldwide. Another popular piece of furniture that is manufactured in Sweden is the Poäng chair, which was designed as far back as 1976.
4. ÄPPLARÖ Drop Leaf Table (Vietnam)
Vietnam is the primary source of acacia, which is the wood species IKEA uses to make much of its outdoor furniture. The sturdy table is crafted from solid acacia wood and acrylic satin. It is part of the ÄPPLARÖ series, which comprises various units of outdoor furniture.
IKEA’s operations are anchored on sustainability. As a result, systems have been put into place to ensure that the company keeps running in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner for years to come and regardless of where their materials come from and where their products are manufactured.
Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials
IKEA utilizes large amounts of materials like wood, plastic, and cotton to construct its furniture. So, in order to prevent indiscriminate usage of raw materials, IKEA follows a set of codes called the IWAY system, which governs the sourcing of products, services, and materials across all IKEA manufacturers.
To ensure healthy forestation and supply of wood, IKEA invests in acquiring forest lands. It has 250,000 acres in Romania and the Baltic States. It also has 25,000 acres in Lowndes County.
IKEA also uses only cotton sourced from sustainable plants for its products and works to lower the impact on water supplies and communities where they obtain cotton from.
About 99.5% of the wood used by IKEA is either recycled or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Investing in Renewable Energy
IKEA is working towards being climate positive by 2030 and to have its home goods unit using 100% renewable energy by 2025.
To this end, it’s working towards renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. Presently, 90% of IKEA’s stores in the US already have solar panels installed on their roofs.
The company has invested and is still investing millions of dollars in building more solar and wind farms across the countries where it operates. IKEA is also looking towards selling renewable energy to households.
Use of Renewable Recycled Raw Materials
Another goal IKEA has for 2030 is to be a circular business. The circular design is targeted at making their items produce as little waste as possible.
As a result, IKEA is veering towards using more recycled and renewable materials to make its products. In line with its 2030 goal, IKEA intends for the entire range of its products to be manufactured from renewable materials.
To minimize the effect of plastic waste on the planet, IKEA plans to gradually phase out plastic in its product range by 2028.
IKEA also sells replacement parts and makes provisions for selling old furniture pieces. This way furniture lasts longer and disused furniture is put to good use.