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Sawlog prices down in many countries in 2014

April 2, 2015 – Sawlog prices were generally lower throughout the world both in the local currencies and in U.S. dollar terms in the fourth quarter of 2014, as compared to earlier in the year. 


April 2, 2015
By Hakan Ekstrom

The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) fell for the third consecutive quarter to $83.12/ m3, which was down 2.6 per cent from the previous quarter and 6.3 per cent lower than the same quarterin 2013, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The GSPI is currently at thelowest level in two years.

Over the past year, sawlog prices have fallen the most in Northern and Central Europe in U.S. dollar terms, predominantly as a result of a weakening Euro. Domestic log price also declined in Latin America and Oceania. 

The only continent where prices did not decline was North America, where healthy U.S. domestic lumber demand and respectable export volumes from both the U.S. and Canada kept consumption of logs as high as in 2013.

The west coast of the U.S., British Columbia and New Zealand have expanded log and lumber exports to China quite substantially over the past few years, and these are also the regions that currently have the highest sawlog prices as compared to their respective 10-year averages. 

In the northwestern U.S., there has been a steady increase in log costs since 2009 and the Q4 2014 prices for Douglas-fir and hemlock sawlogs were 25 per cent higher than their 10-year averages.

On the other end of the spectrum are Russia and Brazil, two regions that currently have substantially lower sawlog prices as compared to the average for the period 2005-2014.

For both countries, prices have fallen because of a stronger dollar. In their local currencies, current prices are actually higher than the average price over the past decade.

Countries that had the highest and lowest domestic sawlog costs in Q4 2014 as compared to the average costs for the past 10 years were: U.S., Northwest (+25%), New Zealand (+21%), Canada, West (+19%), Latvia (+14%), Estonia (+12%), Sweden (-4%), Finland (-6%), Canada, East (-8%), Brazil (-17%), Russia, NW (-31%).

In its latest issue, the WRQ reported that sawmills in Central Europe had some of the highest wood raw-material costs in the world in Q4 2014, while sawmills in Russia and Latin America enjoyed quite competitive wood costs.