Members of the European Organisation of the Sawmilling Industry (EOS) produced 69.2 million m3 of sawn softwood during 2001, a slight decrease (-1%) on the previous year.

The EOS, meeting for its general assembly in Ghent, said consumption fell by 2.6% to 54.7 million m3 mainly due to a decline in construction activity in some member countries.

However, it is hopeful consumption will pick up because of a continued increase in the repair/maintenance and DIY sectors, plus the possibility of good results on foreign export markets such as North America, Japan and Arab countries.

Meanwhile, EOS members produced nearly 6 million m3 of sawn hardwood in 2001, slightly up on 2000, with a 4.8% increase in consumption to 8.4 million m3. This positive trend has not continued, partly due to increased competition from suppliers in central and eastern Europe and the Far East.

The general assembly adopted an EOS classification system for sawn beech for export to the Asian market in order to bring clarity and stability for both exporters and importers.