Exports of German sawn softwood in 2013 fell to their lowest
levels since 2004, according to new figures.
The German Timber and Wood Industry Association's (DeSH) preliminary
estimates for 2013 show that exports fell to 6.3 million m3, the lowest
since 5.5 million m3 was recorded in 2004 and well below the pre-recession
peak of 9.3 million m3 in 2007.
German domestic sawn softwood consumption rose 328,000m3 to 18 million m3
and domestic sawmill production was up about 1% to 20.2 million m3.
Sawn hardwood exports were up about 70,000m3 to 640,000m3 in 2013, with sawn
hardwood production rising about 117,000m3 to 1 million m3. Domestic
consumption was 760,000m3.
German sawmilling turnover was up slightly last year to €5.4bn.
Softwood sawmillers' profitability improved in 2013 but DeSH described the
situation as still "tense".
Limited availability of raw materials led to a further increase in roundwood
prices, in contrast to competitor mills in Sweden where raw material costs
DeSH chief executive Lars Schmidt said forest owners' interpretation of the
economy was too optimistic and threatened the viability of the entire
Germany's foreign softwood lumber markets, especially its neighbouring
countries, bought significantly fewer products last year, with the only
growth recorded in the Middle East and among Mediterranean countries.
But a "noteworthy" rapid increase was recorded in exports to China.
DeSH believes the recovery of the US timber market will lead to more
Canadian volumes switching from Asia to the US, leaving opportunities for
European timber producers to expand exports to Japan and China.
Good domestic demand was recorded in 2013, particularly in urban areas and
in renovation work.
Germany remained the largest lumber producer in Europe in 2013.
"This shows that the industry is well established in Germany in spite of
everything," added Mr Schmidt.
He expressed cautious optimism for 2014.