Indonesian plywood supply is also reported to be almost back to normal, albeit with freight rates increasing costs. One importer, however, said they were now only buying raw board from the country.
“Thinner Indonesian product is also still doing OK, and they’re strong in overlay and 2.7mm items for the caravan industry, but, for us, they’re pretty much out of the picture in 18-21mm film-faced for construction, where Russian dominates,” they said.
Russian plywood is reported to have become more competitive overall with the rouble sliding from 77 to the euro in June to over 90 in September.
“At the same time, some Russian mills have been pushing for price rises in certain upper end qualities as they’re facing shortages of logs and quality veneers until the next harvest season starts,” said an importer.
Reflecting the impact of the pandemic, analysis of Eurostat’s Comext figures show total tropical hardwood imports into the EU27+UK were down 42.4% to 221,000 cu.m from January to July, compared with the same period in 2019.
Biggest falls came in imports from China, down 56.6% to 82,000 cu.m. Shipments from Indonesia were 37.1% lower at 58,000 cu.m, from Malaysia down 2.8% to 36,000 cu.m, Gabon down 23.8% to 12,000 cu.m, Brazil down 46% to 6,000 cu.m and Vietnam down 31.7% to 7,000 cu.m.
EU27+UK combined temperate hardwood plywood imports for the period fell 13.4% to 1.25 million cu.m, with Russian imports down 13.5% to 591,000 cu.mm, Chinese down 14.2% to 477,000 cu.m, Belarusian down 9.1% to 95,000 cu.m and Ukrainian down 10.6% to 67,000 cu.m, while Uruguayan imports were up 0.8% at 9,000 cu.m.
EU27+UK total softwood plywood imports over the same period were 23.9% lower at 847,000 cu.m, with Brazilian 24.7% lower at 597,000 cu.m, Chilean down 22.1% at 93,000 cu.m, Russian down 24.7% at 70,000 cu.m and Chinese down 44.9% at 39,000 cu.m. Imports from Canada rose 26% to 9,500 cu.m and South African increased 311.8% to 10,000 cu.m.