According to the Austrian Lantwirtschaftkammer (Chamber of Agriculture), the prices of spruce timber has passed € 100/cubic meter (solid wood under bark). This price goes for all of Austria including regions with bark-beetle damaged wood. The demand for sawn timber is high and the timber yards are empty. It´s time for gold digging for the forest owners.
Austrian timber prices
Historically, the average prices for sawlogs of spruce during the last decade has been approx. € 90 per m3according to the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture. In autumn 2013 there was a peak of € 100. The most recent figure was € 94 in April this year but according to the same source the price in June 2021 was over € 100 per m3.
In areas affected by the bark-beetle, the prices have been lower, but now also those areas have reached the same timber price levels as the rest of the country.
Higher prices to make the forest owners sell
There are no logs to process, and the market screams for wood. So, the sawmills must pay to convince the forest owners to cut. It´s the simple and brutal law of supply and demand. The sawmills need the timber to satisfy the market and to prevent them from buying other materials or imported lumber. The Austrian forest owners are used to this chicken race and knows what they are doing. “Pay me the money and you will get the timber.”
The forest industry in Austria is mainly the sawmills. They are the driver of the forest industry unlike the Swedish and Finnish forest industries that are driven by the pulp- and paper industry. Austria has several large international sawmilling companies and even more small sawmills. They all compete for the timber, and when the market is good, they have to pay.
In 2020 the production of sawn timber was 10,6 million m3 in Austria. For this, 18 million m3 timber was needed. This more than what is annually cut in Austria, which makes them dependent on import from neighboring countries.
Large stocks of chips and pulpwood
The high activity in cutting and sawmilling generates vast volumes of by-products such as chips, bark and sawdust. The normal buyers of those products are the board industry who now see the prices of their raw materials go down due to large availability.
This is a summary of an article signed Torbjörn Johnsen at iSkogen.se.