Times have been good for lumber producers in 2020, with profitability rising worldwide. Most countries tracked by the Wood Resource Quarterly have had their highest gross margins in at least two years, with North America standing out as the continent with the most spectacular profit improvements.

Strong lumber sales and a weakening US dollar moved sawlog prices upward in many markets worldwide in the 3Q/20. The most significant price increases occurred in Western US, Northern and Eastern Europe, and Oceania.

Softwood log exports from Russia have been in steady decline for the past 15 years and could reach zero in 2022 if President Putin’s new log export ban is implemented.

European lumber exporters have expanded their sales overseas from 30% to 45% over the past ten years, with Asia receiving a fifth of total exports in 2020, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly

Sawlog prices fell in most of the major regions of the world in the 2Q/20. A strengthening US dollar, weaker log demand early in the quarter, and sufficient log supply in some markets contributed to the lower prices.

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.

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