European buyers showing more interest in African timbers

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European buyers showing more interest in African timbers

Producers in the Central/West African region are reporting firm demand for padouk, okoume, ovangkol and even gheombi, a timber that was not common in the market until a year ago. Gheombi is used for door manufacturing. The timber has dark streaks but this is apparently appreciated in the Chinese market.

As a result of the disruption to beech supplies due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine buyers for the markets in European buyers are showing more interest in African timbers especially for timbers that could be alternatives for beech.

The availability of hardwoods from traditionally suppliers in Europe has become even more challenging since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine encouraging importers to look more to tropical products. Producers have noted that demand from European buyers is more active than usual for the beginning of the European holiday season.

EU27 tropical wood import value at highest level for a decade In the first three months of this year, the value of EU imports of tropical wood and wooden furniture was at a level not seen for over a decade. Import value was US$1.05 billion in the first quarter, a gain of 22% compared to the same period last year. It was also 16% up on the last quarter in 2021 when trade was already at a decadal high for that period of the year.

EU27 tropical wood import value at highest level for a decade

A large part of the gain in tropical wood import value in the first quarter this year reflected a rise in CIF prices, driven both by continuing high freight rates and severe shortages of wood and other materials due to logistical challenges during the global pandemic. In quantity terms, EU imports of tropical wood and wooden furniture products in the first quarter this year were, at 459,000 tonnes, up only 10% compared to the same period in 2021 and slightly below the pre-pandemic level of 479,000 tonnes in the first quarter of 2020.

Nevertheless, a robust rebound in EU economic activity following the COVID downturn did play a role to underpin stronger trade in tropical wood products during the first quarter this year. Rising activity in key sectors such as furniture and construction, particularly in private sector renovation, maintenance, and improvement (RMI), coincided with severe shortfalls in the supply of tropical wood alternatives. These shortfalls have become even more pronounced since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February greatly curtailed availability from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

Together these three countries accounted for over 50% of all wood fibre imported into the EU for outside the bloc last year. The curtailment of supplies from these countries is opening up new opportunities in the EU market for some tropical wood products, notably plywood and decking for which Russian birch and larch products have been important substitutes. The first quarter import data doesn’t reveal any increase in share for tropical wood in the EU market, unsurprising as the full impact of the war in Ukraine on wood supply in the EU had yet to be felt in that period. However, EU imports from Russia and Belarus did begin to decline during this period and early beneficiaries of the opening supply gap appear to have been Norway, China and, most notably, Brazil (non-tropical products only).

Log Export Prices

West Africa logs, FOB € per m³
Asian market
LM
B
BC/C
Acajou/ Khaya/N’Gollon
265
265
175
Ayous/Obéché/Wawa
250
250
225
Azobe & Ekki
275
275
175
Belli
300
300
Bibolo/Dibétou
215
215
Bilinga
275
275
Iroko 300
280
225
Okoume (60% CI, 40% CE, 20% CS) (China only) 225 225 220
Moabi 280 280 250
Movingui 180
180
Niove
160
160
Okan
230
200
Padouk
270
240
200
Sapele 280 280 200
Sipo/Utile
260
260
230
Tali 300↑ 300↑

 

Sawnwood Export Prices

West Africa sawnwood, FOB
€ per m³
Ayous FAS GMS 460↑
Bilinga FAS GMS 580↑
Okoumé FAS GMS
480
Merchantable 370
Std/Btr GMS 330
Sipo FAS GMS
425
FAS fixed sizes
FAS scantlings 520
Padouk FAS GMS 1,200↑
FAS scantlings 1,400↑
Strips 400↑
Sapele FAS Spanish sizes 460↑
FAS scantlings 489↑
Iroko FAS GMS 600
Scantlings 640↑
Strips
370
Khaya FAS GMS
450
FAS fixed
500
Maobi FAS GMS
530
Scantlings
550
Movingui FAS GMS
380

 

 

 

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