Russian lumber export prices fall since last year: Wood Resource International

Image: Kurniawan Eka Saputra/Unsplash

Russian lumber export prices have fallen substantially since the past year, both because of boycotts and weaker wood demand in China.

Russia was the world’s largest exporter of softwood lumber in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, shipments fell dramatically, resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the boycott of Russian forest products in Europe, North America, and key markets in Asia.

According to Wood Resource International, export volumes have plunged from a record high of over 31 million m3 in 2020 to about 23 million m3 in 2022.

The decline has continued in 2023, with shipments estimated to reach less than 21 million m3 for the year. The halt of sales to Europe resulted in a 4.6 million m3 drop in export volume from 2021 to 2023.

Most of the lost shipments to Europe, mainly from sawmills in the Northwestern province, have not been redirected to other importing countries in Asia, CIS states, or the MENA region as some lumber manufacturers in Russia had hoped.

Instead, export volumes to Russia’s traditional markets have declined over the past two years. With Europe’s boycott of Russian lumber and China’s weakened economy, the former world-leading lumber exporter has lost about 25% of its total export volumes since 2021.

During the first seven months of 2023, most Russian export lumber has been shipped to China and the CIS countries. These two markets have accounted for 85% of total exports this year, compared to less than 70% in 2021.

The Russian domestic market has also weakened, with demand for most forest products dropping during the same time period.

Consequently, according to estimates by Wood Resources International, lumber production in Russia has fallen by almost 20% in the past two years.

Over the past year and a half, Russian lumber export prices have plunged by almost 50% in US dollar terms, from an all-time high of US$310/m3 in early 2022 to $163/m3 in Q3 2023.

The dramatic decline has occurred due to three factors: the European import boycott of Russian forest products due to Russia’s war in Ukraine reduced wood demand in China, and a weakening of the Ruble against the US dollar.

The most significant price declines have been in the exports from Russia Northwest, followed by Russia Far East and Siberia.

Source: Wood Resource International