Supply tight for sawmills in Sweden as forest fires limit log flow

Although consumption of wood raw-material by the Swedish forest industry has risen, according to Wood Resource Quarterly, in 2017 and early 2018, sawmills have struggled to fill their inventories.

Softwood log imports went up more than 25 per cent during the first four months of 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017 – even though the supply of imported hardwood logs has dropped

Meanwhile, softwood log imports to Sweden increased for the second year in a row from 4.5 million m³, with Finland’s and Estonia’s market share expanding the most. However, in the fourth quarter of17, import volumes fell to their lowest levels in two years due to weather related struggles in sourcing logs around the Baltic Sea.

When the weather improved in early 2018, shipments of softwood logs increased and in the first quarter of 2018, imports from Finland and Estonia had gone up by 88 per cent and 42 percent respectively.

However, the biggest changes in supply sourcing over the past five years include a dramatic decline in softwood logs Sweden imports from Latvia, and a steady increase in logs from Norway, with imports from Norway to Sweden increasing from two million m³ in 2013 to 2.5 million m³ in 2017, making up some 56 per cent of Sweden’s total log imports.

Finally, domestic log prices in Sweden have been on a steady upswing from 2016’s fourth quarter to the first quarter of 2018, with prices for sawlogs rising by 16 per cent.

However, forest fires that ravaged Sweden in July and destroyed over 25,000 hectares of forests have resulted in substantial restrictions in timber harvests and reduced log deliveries which have brought about widespread falling log inventories throughout the forest industry. As a consequence, it is likely that log imports will increase in the second half of 2018.