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The strong local and global demand for sawn timber in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH) is largely responsible for the increase in prices for roundwood. While increases are currently being reported for spruce roundwood from Schleswig-Holstein via Bavaria to Tyrol and the Lower Saxony state forests, the Swiss price increases have so far been limited for sawn timber ranges for construction, but experience tells us that the prices of roundwood should follow soon.

In the case of hardwood logs, however, the Swiss Forest Office (WaldSchweiz) has already noticed a price increase compared to the previous year, less for beech than for ash and oak, which are considerably more expensive. In Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, beech prices are at the previous year’s level. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the deliveries. In Bavaria, the export of beech logs and beech lumber is currently showing a downward trend in prices and quantities.

“There are now quite positive developments on the log market here in the North. There is a noticeable increase in demand for softwood sawlogs, so that price increases by 5 to 15% can also be achieved and we are thus on a gradual path of consolidation; for pulpwood it will obviously take a little longer. The market for hardwood remains at a stable level”, timber market expert at Schleswig-Holstein State Forests (SHLF), Harald Nasse stated.

Those who can and do not have (or no longer have) are now quickly filling their warehouses with softwood or even build new ones, as long as there is still at a low price level. Logically, this stimulates demand. In Germany, but probably also with effects on neighboring countries, the “threat” to activate the Forest Damage Compensation Act plays a stimulating role. Without devastating winter storms, roundwood prices should therefore continue their upward trend in the new year.

The poor availability of containers is noticeable across the board, but customers overseas are also not interested in losing Europe as a reliable supplier. So far, Chinese customers can be assumed to put up with the roughly doubled freight costs. “As long as US prices do not fall below US $ 300 – which they are far from – access to raw materials and the logistics chain is much more important than the price issue”, explains Peter Buchleitner, Asia export manager at Claus Rodenberg Waldkontor. His company is already operating successfully with break-bulk ships, which are currently enjoying greater popularity as an alternative to scarce containers.

The Schleswig-Holstein State Forests are happy to have already done a large part of the beech felling and exporting in autumn – there was less spruce here – and they are confident that they will still be able to sell remaining quantities in the 1st quarter of 2021 – if so not over-, then at least regionally.

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