International Softwood Conference hears about market deceleration

22 October 2019

Market deceleration and long-term raw material challenges were key points shared at this year’s International Softwood Conference (ISC) in Antwerp.

Around 180 delegates from across the world gathered to hear the latest softwood markets dynamics at the 67th edition of the ISC, hosted by the Belgian Federation of Textile, Wood and Furniture Industries (Fedustria), the European Organization of the Sawmill Industries (EOS) and the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF).

The conference heard markets had slowed down and the outlook for the coming months “seems to be challenging”, particularly due to multiple raw material challenges caused by forest related issues.

Speaker Andreas von Möller, president of ETTF, said construction activity in Europe experienced a slowdown at the beginning of 2019, with the wood and windows sectors also maybe being affected in the coming months.

Sampsa Auvinen, president of EOS, said recent months had been progressively more challenging with export orders going down, stocks at sawmills rising and lumber prices decreasing. Market disruption has been mainly caused by extremely high quantities of logs being affected by bark beetles.

“These calamities are affecting the whole European sawmilling industry and the effects will be felt over the next few years,” he said.

However, Mr Von Möller stressed the construction sector seems to be doing comparatively better than other sectors of the economy.

And Mr Auvinen said global demand was “steady”, with the market in Middle East and North African countries more stable than in the past few years with bright demographics and construction prospects.

Chinese wood consumption was reportedly healthy; Japan remains a reliable market; and other Asian countries are becoming promising export markets for many European mills.

European shipments to the US have also reached levels unseen since before the global financial crisis.

The next edition of the International Softwood Conference will take place in Helsinki on October 8-9, 2020.