The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) jumped 5.1% q-o-q in the 1Q 2018 to reach its highest level since late 2014, according to Wood Resource Quarterly. There has been a steady increase in sawlog prices worldwide over the past year with the GSPI increasing just over 15% in 12 months. The Euro-based European Sawlog Price Index (ESPI) reached its highest level in almost three years in early 2018, continuing an upward trend that started in 2016.Strong pulp markets and record high prices for both softwood and hardwood market pulp resulted in upward price pressures on wood fiber throughout the world. The Global Softwood Fiber Price Index (SFPI) was up by 3.4% from the 4Q 2017 to the 1Q 2018, the second highest q-o-q increase in seven years. Softwood prices rose in all regions covered by the WRQ, with the exception of Eastern Canada where chip prices fell 16%. Hardwood pulpwood saw a more modest price increase than softwood pulpwood, with prices rising the most in Russia, Spain and Finland. The Global Hardwood Fiber Price Index (HFPI) reached a three-year high of $90.47/odmt in the 1Q 2018.
After softwood lumber consumption in the US reached a ten-year high in 2017, demand fell in early 2018. Despite the reduced consumption, lumber production on the US west coast jumped by over 9% y-o-y in the 1Q/18 thanks to strong demand for lumber from China during the past year.
In the Nordic countries, the sawmilling industry has seen its markets improve both in regard to demand and pricing during 2017 and early 2018. Demand for wood in China slowed in the 1Q/18, with total import volumes of softwood lumber falling to their lowest levels since the 4Q 2016. Russian lumber exports increased by 10% from the previous year, reaching an all- time-high volume of 28 million m3 in 2017 (more than double the export volume in 2007).
Wood fiber costs for pellet producers in both Canada and the US were slightly higher in the 1Q 2018 than in the previous quarter, continuing an upward trend that started in early 2017. Both the US and Canadian Pellet Feedstock Price Indices were up in the 1Q 2018. The United Kingdom, the world’s largest consumer of wood pellets, imported 37% of globally traded pellets in 2017. However, imports fell 3% from 2016, the first y-o-y decline in nine years.