New figures have been released regarding the performance of the global forestry industry last year.
According to the latest Global Sawlog & Pulpwood Price Report from Wood Resources Quarterly, global softwood log trade reached an eight-year high at the end of 2014, with a total volume of 85 million cubic meters. Much of this increased trade went into China, with the Asian nation now accounting for 40 per cent of imports of the product, IHB reports.
In the global lumber market, the report revealed trade of softwood lumber has continually increased since the financial crisis struck in 2008. Export volumes grew between five and eight per cent for the largest lumber producers - Canada, Finland, Germany, Russia and Sweden - last year, while US consumption of the product was up 6.1 per cent.
However, there has been a notable level of fluctuation in prices over the past 12 months, with the cost of lumber falling in both Sweden and Finland in the latter stages of 2014. Meanwhile, in the US, prices currently average around $250 (€235) per cubic metre.
In terms of pulpwood prices, Wood Resources Quarterly reported that the strengthening US dollar and modest cost adjustment in most regions meant wood fibre prices dropped in the fourth quarter of last year.
The Softwood Fiber Price Index dropped three per cent to $95.72 per oven dry metric tonne (odmt), while the Hardwood Fiber Price Index declined by 3.2 per cent to $93.62 odmt.
For the global pulp market, the report revealed market prices for NBSK pulp showed very little change in western Europe, North America and China during the second half of last year. The price premium for NBSK over BHKP reached more than $200 per tonne in autumn 2014, which is the largest discrepancy reported in more than 15 years.
In the global biomass markets, pellet exports from North America saw an increase in price towards the end of last year. A small increase in pellet exports to Europe played a part in this rise, although a more noticeable expansion was recorded in trade with Asia.
The figures released by Wood Resources Quarterly indicate 2014 was something of a mixed year for the global forestry industry. However, the overall picture does seem to be relatively positive. For example, at the end of last year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations said worldwide wood production has "fully recovered" from the financial crisis, with the exception of sawnwood.