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Softwood log inventory in China has increased as expected over the Chinese New Year period to 4.5 million m3. The percentage of spruce within the total softwood inventory levels has increased.

Log demand in China is strong due to a busy construction season, while supply has been constrained. Since December there has been a 15% increase in CFR sale prices for logs in China with increases in ocean freight costs of up to 40% in this same time.

Approximately 1.5m m3 of spruce arrived in January, but the China log buyers expect spruce supply to be constrained for the next few months due to a lack of containers, and heavy snowfalls in Europe. There is also no indication the ban on Australian logs will be lifted. The increase in log supply from South America has filled the gap left by the Australian log volume. Suppliers of this volume, however, will suffer from the increase in ocean freight costs more than the New Zealand suppliers.

Daily log use in China had dropped to just over 60k prior to the Chinese New Year. Many Chinese were unable to travel for the Chinese New Year, so the disruption to productivity is likely to be less than normal, and we expect productivity to increase faster than usual after the Chinese New Year period.

The Bank of China’s Economic and Financial Outlook annual report bodes well for log demand in China. “Looking into 2021, infrastructure and real estate investment will keep growing fast to drive a continuous economic recovery. Driven by infrastructure and real estate investment, investment will continue to accelerate in 2021 and become the main engine of economic growth for the year”.

Log demand in China is expected to remain strong until productivity drops in their very hot summer period.

The CFR prices for New Zealand pine logs in China has continued to increase. The range for A grade logs was 130USD per JASm3 for early December shipments but is now 152-154USD per JASm3 for late February shipments.

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