In North America at least, 2019 will be remembered as the hangover from the 2018 first-half price spike that collapsed, leaving many casualties along the way. Various GWMI reports highlighted the sawmill devastation in British Columbia, the dismal global softwood lumber consumption trends in 2018 and 2019, and the emergence of a new low-cost timber supply in central Europe that is quickly changing global markets. All these themes have one thing in common: gaining competitiveness in volatile markets where low-cost suppliers set the market and high-cost producers get wiped out quickly.
It is evident that the supply base is changing – and it’s all about competitiveness. More specifically, the 2019 trends show how delivered log costs can make or break a region. For example, in just two years, from being one of the lowest-cost suppliers in North America, the B.C. Interior has now moved into position as the highest-cost one; conversely, central European mills are close to being the lowest-cost suppliers to North America, a trend that will continue to play out in 2020.