• The coronavirus pandemic severely hit the German sawmill and timber industry, especially export oriented companies, leading to production adjustments. The still unclear situation makes any forecast for the upcoming months nearly impossible

The German sawwmill and timber industry can look back on a successful year 2019: It has managed to deal with the challenges in the best possible way.

Extreme weather and bark beetle infestation determined a high raw material supply. Logging and production increased, sales accelerated.

Exports, especially long-distance exports, relieved the market just as much as the securing of new sales markets. The consistently good order situation, which was mainly supported by a strong construction sector, was helpful.

2020 also started well. But then the coronavirus pandemic began, which currently makes predictions impossible.

Production adjustments caused by coronavirus

“The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the German sawmill and timber industry. Uncertain sales markets, restrictions in construction, in handicrafts and the areas that need lumber have led to production adjustments. The shutdown hit especially export-oriented companies with full force. However, we cannot make forecasts for 2020. We hope for a rapid recovery in the global economy, ” The German Organisation of the Timber and Sawmill Industry (DeSH) general manager Lars Schmidt summarizes the current state of the industry.

“2019 was a good year and the start in 2020 was also promising. The calamities due to extreme weather conditions and beetle infestation resulted in high sawmill activity and production, ” explains Schmidt.

Strong construction sector, weak panel market 

In 2019, the amount of damaged wood rose to 42.6 million m³ with a total logging of about 66.8 million m³. In addition to the general condition in the forest, the overall German economy is increasingly worrying: after a growth of only 0.8%, a significant decline is expected due to the pandemic.

While the construction sector continued to trend at a high level, the timber industry, especially the panel plants, suffered a decline in demand of minus 9.1 percent compared to 2018.

The market for softwood timber, on the other hand, was stable: here, production increased by 3.2 % increased. Hardwood logging, which was less affected by calamities in 2019, is constant; commodity prices rose slightly.

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