Sawlog prices in Europe fell in 2012
Sawlog prices in North and Central Europe have trended downward the past two years, while prices in Eastern Europe have increased slightly, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly
April 2, 2013 By Hakan Ekstrom
Sawlog prices in Europe were generally lower in 2012 than in 2011 because of lower log demand from the sawmilling sector and many sawmills on the continent have been forced to reduce production as a result of the weak lumber market. Log prices fell the most in the Nordic countries, while prices in Eastern Europe were steady or even slightly higher toward the end of 2012.
The biggest price declines have been seen in Sweden where pine sawlog prices fell over 15% from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2012 in both the local currency and in U.S. dollar terms. Spruce log prices have declined over 25% during the same time period. In Finland, Germany and Norway, prices have dropped a more modest 5-105 over the past two years, as reported by the Wood Resource Quarterly. Sawlog prices fell during 2012 because sawmills were cutting back production in response to the weaker demand for lumber throughout Europe.
While log prices have fallen in both U.S. dollar terms and local currencies the past two years in Northern and Central Europe, prices for sawlogs in the fourth quarter of 2012 in Eastern European countries, including Estonia, Latvia and the Czech Republic, were generally higher than in 2011. This development has mainly come as a result of the relatively strong lumber export market, which kept the log markets healthy.
The only major market in Eastern Europe where log prices have fallen has been Poland. From the second quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012, average prices have fallen over 20% and the country has now some of the lowest conifer sawlog prices in Europe.
As a consequence of slowing lumber production, log trade declined in Europe during 2012, which also had a dampening impact on log prices on the continent. Net log imports to Western Europe fell from over 14 million m3 in 2011 to an estimated 10.8 million m3 in 2012. Much of the decline in imports was those from Russia and the Baltic States.
Sawlog prices might be close to the bottom in the first quarter of 2013, and they are likely to remain at these levels as long as the European demand for lumber continues to be weak. Despite the recent price declines, current price levels are higher than the ten-year average in all major markets throughout Europe.
Global pulpwood and timber market reporting is included in the 52-page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The report, established in 1988 and with subscribers in over 25 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, lumber and pellet prices, trade and market developments in most key regions around the world. Visit: www.woodprices.com.
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