Japanese wood products importers may seek alternative suppliers as price of Russian lumber increases, report suggests; Japan imported 77,239 m3 of Russian softwood lumber in August compared to 333,756 m3 from Europe

Wendy Lisney

Wendy Lisney

Nov 12, 2013 – Industry Intelligence

LOS ANGELES , November 12, 2013 () – High Russian lumber prices may encourage customers in Japan to turn to domestic or European sources, according to a Nov. 8 report by WhatWood, a news and analytics agency operated by alumni of Moscow State University of Forestry.

Japan imported 333,756 m3 of softwood lumber from Europe in August, up 42.2% from the same month a year ago, according to figures published by the Japan Lumber Journal.

Finland accounted for the lion's share of the August total  at 115,825 m3, with Austria supplying 40,295 m3 and Sweden 94,371 m3.

Japanese traders are concerned that European shipment volumes might fall during the next few months, and this has supported some significant price mark-ups, with prices for Austrian products increasing by more than 50% to €329/m3 for softwood lumber and €431/m3 for structural laminated lumber, WhatWood reported, quoting an analysis from the Japan Lumber Journal.

WhatWood's customs statistics showed Russian edge-sawn softwood lumber costing US$481/m3 on the Japanese market in August, compared to $466/m3 for Austria, $495/m3 for Finland and $437/m3 for Sweden. The price of non-edged Angara pine was less competitive, WhatWood noted, costing $398/m3 compared with $340/m3 for pine from Finland, Sweden and Latvia.

Softwood lumber shipments from Russia to Japan increased 61.1% year-over-year to 77,239 m3 in August, but the flow of product from the Tokyo Lumber Terminal to distributors was described by WhatWood as "somewhat stagnant", because Japanese customers were concerned about the price of Russian imports compared to European or domestic production.

The primary source of this article is WhatWood, Moscow, on Nov. 8, 2013.

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