China’s wood products demand soars in 2016

China’s demand for wood products rebounded strongly in 2016 from the slowdown in 2015, fueled by a growing market demand for use in furniture, doors, windows and finishing, and to a lesser degree, in construction. With rising property values in Tier 1 cities, softwood lumber prices also picked up throughout the year, according to Vancouver-based consultancy Wood Markets.

Total logs and lumber

Log imports jumped nine percent to 48.7 million cubic metres from 2015. Of total log imports, softwood climbed 13 percent to 33.7 million cubic metres, second to the 35.5 million record volume in 2014. Hardwoods inched up two percent to 15.1 million cubic metres.

Lumber imports rose 19 percent over 2015 to hit 31.6 million cubic metres in 2016. Of the total lumber imports, softwood made up 21.1 million cubic metres (+21 percent), while the hardwoods were 10.6 million cubic metres (+15 percent).

Softwood demand soared to new heights

Softwood prices climbed steadily throughout the year. New Zealand logs continue to dominate the market, rising 12 percent to 11.6 million cubic metres in 2016. Russia is in second place (9.2 million cubic metres) followed by USA (4.5 million cubic metres), Australia (3.3 million cubic metres) and Canada (2.8 million cubic metres).

Russian softwood lumber imports took off in 2016 from new capacity expansions and installations driven by high margins from the weak Ruble. “Squared” logs and cants imports (classified as lumber so that no log export tax is paid) continued to increase.

Russian softwood lumber imports soared 38 percent totaling 11.6 million cubic metres. This was followed by Canada (5.2 million cubic metres; -6 percent), Finland (0.95 million cubic metres; +55 percent); Chile (0.75 million cubic metres; +10 percent); Sweden (0.69 million cubic metres; +34 percent); and the USA (0.64 million cubic metres; +8 percent).

Scandinavian supplies also surged. Of the top 10 exporters to China, only Canada, New Zealand and Germany recorded falls in softwood lumber exports to China in 2016.