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.
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.
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.