European hardwood producers are anticipating a 3% decline in sawnwood production by the end of 2022, ITTO reported. The expected decline follows a double-digit increase in production in 2021 and a positive first half of 2022.
“Demand has slowed over the last few months, and production has adapted to weakening sales, both in home European markets and in overseas markets,” according to the ITTO report.
The main challenges have been high energy prices, inflation and increasing mortgage rates, according to Maria Kiefer-Polz, president of the Hardwood of the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry, who presented at the International Hardwood Conference Oct. 28 in Lyon, France.
The challenges are compounded by increasing demand for oak in China, where Kiefer-Polz suggested the current level of oak log exports from Europe is unsustainable.
“Exports of European oak logs to China have been increasing for many years, and China's appetite for European oak sawlogs continues to grow,” the report states. “This is particularly the case now that Russia has implemented a log export ban, increasing China’s reliance on imports from Europe.”
So far in 2022, more than two thirds of Chinese imports of oak logs have been sourced from the E.U.