Development of a market strategy for domestic fuelwood in ireland

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This market analysis was based on a series of interviews with producers, processors, suppliers and end users living and working in Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and in Switzerland. A series of pro-forma questionnaires were developed to ensure that the answers given at interviews could be analysed. Where possible, these interviews were carried out at face to face meetings. Because of the un-registered and un-declared nature of the domestic woodfuel market in Ireland anonymity was offered to all participants. Summaries from interviewees who requested anonymity have been designated a regional identity only. The pro-forma questionnaires used in this research are reproduced in the attached appendices, as are the summaries of the answers obtained.
Expert opinion on the fuelwood market was identified using local knowledge and recommendations from other experts. The results from the interviews with experts were used to select the participants in the SWOT interviews and to identify the key market sectors.
All respondents were asked to provide information on the amount of fuelwood they produced, processed, sold or consumed during a year and to comment on market trends. In addition, those who produced fuelwood were asked to estimate their maximum potential throughput. A number of analytical techniques were then used to estimate the actual and potential market of fuelwood in Ireland and Switzerland. These included a cumulative total of the throughput identified and the percentage of this throughput that appeared in each of the following market sectors.
The selection criteria used to identify interviewees for the SWOT surveys varied between the market sectors. Where a fairly confined market niche was identified, such as tree surgeons or fuel merchants, all relevant companies that were listed in the telephone directories were interviewed. The potential size of the customer base for fuelwood in Ireland precluded a random approach to sampling this section of the market chain. Instead, an attempt was made to sample relevant customer types that had been identified in the replies received from producers, processors or suppliers. An effort was also made to produce a geographically dispersed sampling pattern.
The responses to the SWOT questionnaires were used to produce a list of replies, summarised as appropriate, in each of the market sectors surveyed. The number of times that similar responses were received was noted and the most common replies were used to identify the most important strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the domestic fuelwood market in Ireland and Switzerland.

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