Agrifrance 2018 Rural Report: Focus on The Timber Market in France
With Autumn 2017 sales began with a confirmed pick-up in demand for oak. For other hardwood species, the situation hardly changed.
Oak prices continued to rise, with average growth of 12% in 2017 (€151 per m³ on average). Autumn sales repeated past trends. For oak, the 2008 crisis is but a distant memory. After four consecutive years of rising prices, sector professionals are confident in the future and have low stocks. Prices of standing timber exceeded pre-2008 crisis levels. For example, prices for high-quality oak—used for making furniture and barrels—reached between €300 and €500 per m³.
In other hardwood species, such as beech and ash, supply was high and demand selective. Because the cost of maritime freight soared, exports to Asia levelled off. High-quality beech traded at €25-50 per m³. The strong momentum of exports to Germany supported the price of ash: €80-100 per m³. Demand for poplar timber was driven by its use in packaging. Poplar timber suitable for peeling traded at €25-40 per m³. The pulpwood and fuelwood markets were more challenging.
After declining for several years, softwood markets started to improve in the second quarter of 2017. Volumes coming onto the market increased by 20% and prices for standing timber rose.
During the first half of 2017, 750,000m³ of softwoods came onto the market (+20% y/y). In ten years, this is the largest volume brought to the market by forest owners. Excluding Scots pine, whose volumes coming onto the market dipped, the supply of all other softwood species saw an upswing.
The building sector appears to be picking up again, with an upturn in new housing starts: 397,000 (+15.2% y/y). As the supply of unsold wood diminished, prices increased. Spruce (€37-68 per m³) fetched between €2 and €4 more per m³ of standing timber (+3% to 5% y/y). The same was true for Douglas fir (€20-75 per m³) thanks to robust demand. Silver fir traded at €58 per m³ on average. Maritime pine (€20-75 per m³) posted a smaller price increase in 2017, but has still grown steadily since 2011.
Agrifrance is the specialist rural property division of BNP Paribas Wealth Management, offering clients seeking the right investment and wealth management solutions the benefit of over 40 years of experience in the viticulture, farming, forestry and prestigious homes markets. With its network of recognised professionals, Agrifrance is also able to provide complementary services such as expertise in and management of rural properties.
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