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European wood is in great demand. That leads to skyrocketing prices.

“The sudden and massive shortage of lamellas on the European timber market has triggered a veritable tsunami of demand for glued wood products from Schilliger Holz AG,” the Küssnacht-based company states on its website. Lamellae are boards from which glued wood products such as glued beams for supporting structures or multilayer panels are made.

Within a few weeks, the order stock has doubled the usual amount, and the delivery times are now over four months. Patron Ernest Schilliger confirms that the demand has increased almost explosively in the last four weeks: “We were covered with orders in a very short time, even from customers who are not our regular customers.”

In Germany and Austria the wood industry has noticed this “panic in the market”. “The market reacted quickly and adjusted the prices upwards.” Within a month, the prices for sawn timber and lamellar timber exploded. “In Switzerland, prices are still lagging a bit, which is why many of us stock up on stocks,” suspects Ernest Schilliger.

The trend towards natural wood as a product 

In particular, high-quality fir and spruce wood is in short supply. «We have many more orders than we can handle. We work in two shifts, sometimes also on Saturdays, ”explains Schilliger. The family company therefore had no choice but to impose a temporary order stop for laminated timber products from April 1st. He suspects that the high demand “will certainly continue until autumn”.

The wooden elements dried, glued and processed by companies such as Schilliger are built into stones by Schmidlin Holzbau into buildings or supporting structures.

The weekly rise in prices is an entrepreneurial risk for timber construction companies, Thomas Schmidlin calculates: “If we have offered a timber structure four months in advance, we have to build it at the calculated price, even if the purchase prices have risen massively.”

The price development is not the same in all ranges, but glued wood has increased in price by up to 60 percent within two months, wood by-products such as panels and insulation by 20 to 30 percent. This has an impact on the period of validity of the offer.

Added to this are the long delivery times: “We had to postpone the construction of a house by five weeks because there was a lack of supplies,” Schmidlin points out to another challenge.

The shortage also has a social component, explains the construction company. “The global demand for wood is huge, fueled by the climate debate and the trend towards local, ecological products. The consumer prefers wood from local forests to tropical wood or that from Siberian forests.”

Added to this are the technical advances in construction. Today it is possible to build wooden houses up to 70 meters high. In recent years, multi-storey apartment blocks, schools, commercial buildings, public buildings and even banks have been created from local raw materials.

“In the 19th century steel was the trend, in the 20th century concrete. Now we are in the wood century”, the Thomas Schmidlin is convinced.

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