Despite the threat from imported low priced products, the German furniture industry had a very encouraging 2015 and, as a result industry heads are looking forward to further growth, albeit moderate by some standards, that will keep this sector of the German economy pushing forward despite a challenging business environment caused by the aforementioned imports . This probably means that hard negations between suppliers of raw product for the German domestic market and German manufacturers is an ongoing one and that margins are, to say the least, tight.
Positively, growth has almost reached levels of pre-2008 when, as we are all well aware, we were plunged into a worldwide economic crisis. This is good news for the near 500 German companies employing in excess of 80,000 workers.
German tenacity and determination shines through once again.
Figures have just been released, for the year 2015, concerning the stock that Sweden holds of various wood products. Although it does not categorically say so, merely by implication it would suggest that demand for Swedish wood declined slightly during the previous year. No explanation for this has been offered or indeed indicated.
The losers, in order of largest decline first: Woodchips, Softwood Sawlogs, and Pulpwood. The only winner is Sprue Pulp which increased by over a quarter compared to 2014.
Like China, Russia is experiencing a downturn in its economy.
In a bid to sell more timber and sawn wood, the Russian government have invited the world’s timber and sawn wood importers and exporters to a conference within a conference in Moscow on the 3rd March. The aim is to make Russian forest products more attractive to both overseas and domestic users.
For a one time communist country Russia is quick off the mark in seeing a business opportunity. Since 2008 the amount of Russian sawnwood imported through the Chinese port of Manzhouli have been on the rise. Indeed the amount of sawnwood that is landed has been steadily on the increase, to such an extent that the traditional landed timber, logs, now accounts for half the imported timber with sawnwood making the other half.
Having agreed that the UK can partially convert the Drax coal fired power station to biomass the EU now has concerns regarding the business viability of such a project. The biomass generator would require wood pellets. The UK government estimate that in order to achieve the projected electricity output nearly 2.5 million tonnes of wood pellets would be required. These would be sourced for the most part from the U.S.A. and South America.
I am sure that everyone is fully aware that China is suffering an economic slowdown /slump. However you word it the Chinese economy is at best treading water and at worse shrinking. While the eyes of the world has focused on the stock market in general we of course are going to look the impact this is having on our industry.
With news of China’s continuing economic slowdown and the price of a barrel of Brent crude falling again you may be under the misconception that ‘business’ as a whole is lapsing in to a slump, but as we have mentioned many times before the media tends to focus on high profile industries and while ours is a global business it doesn’t seem ‘sexy’ enough to warrant enough column inches. However, we know better and we like to report on the success that our industry enjoys.
We have spoken about resurgences of products before. Types of wood and wood products go in and out of fashion as products do in other markets. 2015, certainly the first three quarters of it, saw the return to popularity within the EU of tropical veneers. France and Italy increased their imports the most, some of which can be attributed to demand from okoumé plywood manufacturers. Indeed they account for nearly half of all imports into the EU. Romania, Greece and the Netherlands also saw increased demand while Spain and Germany’s requirement fell.
Gabon is the main supplier of tropical veneers into Europe with Cameron and Ghana also popular suppliers. The demand for product however fell from Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast and Congo.
It will be interesting to see if demand continues to grow during 2016.
As the Chinese economy slows it is surprising that so many timber exporting nations are looking to the Asian giant to help boost sales. In a past report we pointed out that Chinese wharfs are stacked with imported timber waiting to be used. So, this is weeks industry focus piece either shines the spotlight on Finland’s timber sector acting too little too late and in a falling market or shows it as forward thinking and intuitive.
Imports of tropical sawn timber into the European Union as a whole during the first three quarters of 2015 have risen and it is hoped that early next year we will be able to report that 2015 saw a full twelve month revival.