Japan bought considerably less radiata pine logs and lumber in 2015 due to sluggish demand for crating lumber and pallet, according to the ITTO. Imports of New Zealand radiata pine logs fell 20% to 421,850m3 while radiata pine lumber fell 10% to 75,936m3. Chilean radiata pine lumber import was 222,353m3, a 14% decrease.
A weaker yen (exchange rate: ~120 yen to a Dollar) should spell good news for Japanese exports but China sales took a hit due to the poor Chinese economy. Korea, Thailand and the Philippines were also affected by China’s slowdown, resulting in an overall fall in demand for crating lumber. The slump saw Japanese sawmills reducing production by 20%, resulting in lower demand for radiata pine logs.
Chilean radiata pine suppliers initially planned eight shipments to Japan last year but the final shipment was delayed till early 2016. Chilean radiata pine crating lumber competes with domestic larch and cedar crating lumber.
Chilean sawmills were operating at full capacity in 2014, driven by demand in US and China. In 2015, production was cut back, partly also due to fierce competition with European players in the Middle East.