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FEA Update: China softwood log inventories

5 March 2023

China’s Softwood Log Inventories at Ocean Ports. FEA industry sources in China report that softwood log inventories at the country’s main ocean ports totaled 5.4 million m3 on February 3, 2023, an increase of 42% (+1.6 million m3) from the prior month, as follows:

• Radiata pine log inventory volumes from New Zealand and South America amounted to 3.55 million m3, representing growth of 32% from a month earlier and comprising 66% of overall log inventories (versus 70% in late December).

• North American Douglas-fir and hemlock log volumes totaled 675,000 m3, rising rapidly by 54% from the previous month and accounting for 12% of overall log inventories.

• European spruce log volumes were 997,000 m3, sharp growth of 95% from a month earlier and comprising 18% of overall log inventories.

• Softwood log inventories from other countries, including Russia and Japan, totaled 187,000 m3 (+7%).

The current inventory level of 5.4 million m3 represents a reduction of 10% from the 6.1 million m3 recorded in the equivalent period last year (around 10 days after the Spring Festival Day); however, it represents volume growth of 1.6 million m3 from one month earlier. There were several reasons for this quick growth: First, Chinese importers had high expectations for market demand (with higher prices) following the Spring Festival holiday, so were unwilling to sell their volumes prior to the holiday break. Second, sawmills faced problems with payment collections from their customers so were unable to purchase extra stock ahead of the break.

According to a recent survey on 12,220 construction projects in China, 10.5% of them resumed on January 10 in the Chinese lunar calendar, down 16.8% from the same period last year. Meanwhile, the current sawmilling operation rate is estimated at ~20%, with average daily sales at ocean ports of 29,600 m3. Log wholesale market prices increased by RMB 70–80/m3 in early February versus the end of December at Taicang and Lanshan. Nonetheless, it will require some time to validate whether the higher price of construction lumber—produced from higher-cost logs—will be accepted by end users.

For more information on FEA’s China Bulletin where this data is reported monthly, please visit getfea.com, or contact Dave Battaglia at dbattaglia@getfea.com

Source: FEA

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