Global sawlog price up in Q4, 2020

10 May 2021

According to Wood Resources International (WRI), the Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) rose 8% in the fourth quarter of 2020 as demand for logs was up in North America and Europe

Both of the WRI’s sawlog price indices (Global and European) jumped 8% quarter-on-quarter in Q4 2020 as log prices increased worldwide. Demand for logs improved when lumber consumption increased in the second half of 2020, particularly in the US, the UK, South Korea, and the MENA region.

In Europe, the lumber market was generally flat, with only minor changes in domestic demand. However, European countries with high levels of lumber exports to non-European countries were in luck. Record-setting lumber prices in the US helped drive increased shipments to higher levels year-on-year than in Q4, 2020. These increases were observed in Germany, Sweden, Romania, and Austria.

The GSPI rose to a two-year high of US$74.66/m3 in Q4 2020. This was more than two dollars above its 25-year average. Western US, western Canada, Austria, Germany, and Estonia saw the most significant quarter-on-quarter price increases. Of the 21 regions included on the index, only north-west Russia and Poland saw falling sawlog prices from Q3 to Q4 2020.

The European Sawlog Price Index (ESPI), denominated in euros, rose to €76.13/m3 in Q4 2020, up from an 11-year low in Q3 2020. Sawlog prices in Austria, Germany, Norway, Estonia, and the Czech Republic increased the most during the autumn of 2020.

Russia exported 15 million m3 of logs in 2020, which accounted for almost 12% of globally traded roundwood. Much of this trade may come to a halt next year when a new law proposed by Russia’s president will ban the exportation of softwood logs and high-value hardwood logs starting January 1, 2022.

According to a just-released study by WRI and O’Kelly Acumen, Russian Log Export Ban in 2022 - Implications for the Global Forest Industry, China will probably look to source more sawlogs from other regions of the world, such as Oceania, Europe, and the US.