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WRI Market Insights, April 2021: A Global Sawlog Market Update

The Global Sawlog Price Index rose 8% in the 4Q/20 as demand for logs was up in North America and Europe

Both of the WRI’s sawlog price indices (Global and European) jumped 8% q-o-q in the 4Q/20 as log prices increased worldwide. Demand for logs improved when lumber consumption increased in the second half of 2020, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and the MENA region. In Europe, the lumber market was generally flat, with only minor changes in domestic demand. However, European countries with high levels of lumber exports to non-European countries were in luck. Record setting lumber prices in the US helped drive increased shipments to higher levels y-o-y than in the 4Q/20. These increases were observed in Germany, Sweden, Romania, and Austria.

The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) rose to a two-year high of US$74.66/m3 in the 4Q/20. This was more than two dollars above its 25-year average. Western US, Western Canada, Austria, Germany, and Estonia saw the most significant q-o-q price increases. Of the 21 regions included on the Index, only Northwest Russia and Poland saw falling sawlog prices from the 3Q/20 to the 4Q/20.

The European Sawlog Price Index (ESPI), denominated in Euros, rose to €76.13/m3 in the 4Q/20, up from an 11-year low in the 3Q/20. Sawlog prices in Austria, Germany, Norway, Estonia, and the Czech Republic increased the most during the fall of 2020.

Russia exported 15 million m3 of logs in 2020, which accounted for almost 12% of globally traded roundwood. Much of this trade may come to a halt next year when a new law proposed by Russia’s president will ban the exportation of softwood logs and high-value hardwood logs starting January 1, 2022. According to a just-released study by WRI and O’Kelly Acumen, Russian Log Export Ban in 2022 - Implications for the Global Forest Industry (LINK), China will probably look to source more sawlogs from other regions of the world, such as Oceania, Europe, and the US.

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