The value of imported forest products to China dropped by 750 million dollars y-o-y during January and February 2020, with the biggest falls on the values of wood pulp and softwood lumber, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly

Sawlog costs, which often account for more than two-thirds of the production costs, have fallen substantially in Central Europe in 2019 making the sawmilling sector in the region more competitive. The European Sawlog Price Index in the 3Q/19 was 35% lower than its record high in 2011.

Softwood pulplog prices fell in the key markets of Europe in the fall of 2019. This price decline contributed to a two-year low of the Softwood Fiber Price Index (SFPI) in the 3Q/19, according to the WRQ. With the hardwood fiber price movements having been mixed the past year, the Hardwood Fiber Price Index (HFPI) has not change much y-o-y.

The financial health of the world’s lumber producers was mixed in the 3Q/19. The gross margins fell in Northern Europe, while they improved slightly in Austria, Eastern Russia, Western US, and Western Canada, reports the WRQ. In North America, lumber prices started to flatten out and increased slightly in the fall.

China is increasing importation of logs from New Zealand and Europe, while diminishing imports from North America and Russia. As a region, Europe is now the second largest supplier of softwood logs to China behind New Zealand, reports the WRQ.

A plentiful supply of logs coupled with declining demand moved sawlog prices downward in most major markets around the world in the 3Q/19. The biggest price reductions came in Central Europe, where storm damaged logs flooded the market.

Pulpmills in Brazil had some of the lowest wood fiber costs in the world in the 2Q/19, according to the WRQ. Over the past three years Eucalyptus pulplog prices have fallen while the global Hardwood Fiber Price Index (HFPI) has trended upward to reach its highest level in four years.

Costs for sawlogs declined in most major regions around the world in the first half of 2019. However, lumber prices have fallen faster in key markets resulting in lower profits for sawmills, particularly in British Columbia, the US South and Eastern Russia, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly.

Many pellet manufacturers in North America have had to increase the usage of logs for their feedstock in 2019 because of reduced availability of lower-cost sawmill residues. This has resulted in higher total wood fiber costs and increases in the pellet feedstock price indices for both Canada and the US in the 1H/19, according to NAWFR.

Wood raw-material costs for many lumber producers in Europe and North America have fallen over the past year both because of increased timber harvests and reduced log demand, particularly in North America and Asia. Some of the biggest price changes in the 1H/19 have been seen in the Western US, Central Europe and New Zealand.

The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) fell for the fifth consecutive quarter in the 2Q/19, reaching a two-year low. Log prices were down on all continents, with the biggest declines occurring in Europe.

Tight supply of hardwood fiber in the Pacific Rim have pushed prices for Latin American hardwood chips upward during the first half of 2019, reports the WRQ. However, a decline in chip consumption in China is expected to occur in the second half of the year, which would likely end the most recent price rally that started in mid-2018.

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