Raw material supply is key talking point at European sawmill assembly25 June 2021
Securing access to raw materials was the key issue raised at an important gathering of European sawmillers on June 24.
The online Summer General Assembly of the European Organization of the Sawmill (EOS) Industry was held amid high demand but increasing supply challenges.
Gerd Ebner of Timber-Online presented “Latest data and developments on bark-beetle outbreaks across Central Europe”, explaining that since 2015, 369 million m3 of damaged wood have accumulated in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria alone.
As a result, the price of logs fell to historically low levels by the summer of 2020. However, the strong log demand subsequently caused prices to rise significantly. In the space of just 12 months, log prices have risen by almost €50/m3. Thus, record roundwood prices have already been achieved in Central Europe or will be reached in the coming weeks.
Central European sawmills have invested in additional capacity and further processing capabilities due to the high timber demand prospects.
However, delegates were told that spruce will be less available in the future and it will be a seller's market for roundwood.
“Therefore, after a period of abundance of raw materials, there will be a scarcity of resources in the softwood sector,” delegates heard.
Jarno Seppala of Indufor shared how Russia’s logs export ban is impacting on global sawnwood markets.
Mr Seppala said roundwood exports from Russia might be heavily limited from next year following last year’s announcement of a ban of exporting untreated or roughly processed wood, “should the legislation enter into force as proposed”.
Mr Seppala argued that the Russian measures will push China to diversify away from Russian import of logs which might put pressure on European forests. Supply of high-quality softwood logs will be more expensive and buyers will face higher competition.
Official figures show that the deliveries of logs to China from Europe are already on the rise and according to many EOS members there is a risk of a structural shortage of logs across many European countries.
As usual, during the Assembly the EOS Annual Report was presented. The publication will be freely downloadable from the EOS website and hard copies can also be ordered at the following address: [email protected]