Japan’s plywood sector has a tumultuous history marred by price fluctuations and trade imbalance. The price-sensitive commodity also faces competition from imports, which used to account for over half of the market share. Many of them come from South Sea hardwood and Russian larch logs for many years.
Up till 2015, the industry was hit by oversupply, which local producers tried to resolve by curtailing production. The market has since stabilised, demand has recovered and for the past two years, it has been a sellers’ market with manufacturers enjoying profits.
Plywood production in Southeast Asia has been declining mainly due to the difficulty of acquiring raw material logs. Dwindling resources and environmental protection have since rendered mass production of South Sea hardwood plywood history and prices of prices of imported plywood have since been climbing steadily. The market share for imported plywood has since fallen and domestic industries that have always relied on imports are now turning to domestic softwood plywood.
Cedar, cypress and larch are readily available and the prices are stable without the influence of exchange rate fluctuations.
In the first half of 2017, shipments of domestic softwood plywood were 1,447,000 cbm, 2.2 per cent more than the same period of last year. For a unit of house, 3.12 cbm of plywood is required, up from 2.83 cbm in 2014.
Besides, panel products such as structural particleboard, MDF and gypsum board are also in demand. For once, the plywood market is enjoying some peace and prosperity.