Softwood battles headwinds back to growth

16 November 2015

The consensus at the International Softwood Conference was that the industry is still dealing with the fallout from global recession in many areas.

The international speaker line-up at the Amsterdam event on November 4-6 highlighted that different countries were emerging from the downturn at different rates, and said that new stresses were emerging as producers increased output to capitalise on economic upturn, risking over-supply.

The sector also had to adapt to global market shifts triggered or accentuated by the economic crisis, most significantly Asia and notably China’s emergence as a prime market mover.

Rupert Oliver, of Forest Industries Intelligence, said the global softwood sector overall was clearly in recovery.

“Total global softwood trade increased from 275 million m3 in 2010, to 315 million m3 in 2014, while consumption rose almost in line, from 272 million m3 to 313 million m3,” he said.

“That’s a significant rebound.”

European Organisation of Sawmills President Sampsa Auvinen agreed the worst of the recession was over, but described recovery as a ‘roller coaster of market ups and downs’.

And there were new concerns about European mill output outpacing demand. “EOS countries have talked of trimming production to 79.6 million m3, but it doesn’t feel like it yet,” he said.

European Timber Trade Federation President Andreas von Möller agreed, urging producers to treat markets individually and be ‘sensitive’ to over-production.