The sawn hardwood trade in Europe experienced a period of unprecedented demand and good margins in 2021 and the first half of 2022. Growing recognition of the environmental benefits of hardwoods, particularly with a rising focus on zero carbon commitments, also implies strong long term prospects for hardwood products in the region.
However short-term market prospects are clouded with uncertainty against the background of sharply rising inflation and declining business and consumer confidence.
There are also serious concerns about long-term supply, particularly of oak, due to the volatile geopolitical situation, impact of climate change on European forests, and rising log exports to other regions.
These are the main insights from the International Hardwood Conference held on 28th of October in Lyon, France, and organised by the French National Wood Federation (FNB), the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry (EOS) and the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF). This event gathered around 100 industrialists, traders, and experts of the sectors to discuss market trends, with a focus on the shortage of raw material availability and impact of skyrocketing energy costs for hardwood industries in Europe.
Maria Kiefer-Polz, President of the Hardwood section, presented the point of view of European hardwood producers. The EOS Hardwood members expect a sawnwood production decline of at least 3% this year following a double-digit increase in 2021. After a good 2021 and a bright first half of the year 2022, demand has slowed over the last few months and production has adapted to weakening sales, both in home European markets and in overseas markets.