France: Recent auctions reveal rising hardwood prices

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The hardwood market in France continues to be very fierce this summer. The results of recent public hardwood auctions organized at the end of the first half of the year confirm the strong demand in almost all species and in all types of products. June auctions in the east of France, such as that of Courlaoux in the Jura region (see table 1 below), were highly competitive and were largely characterized by firm prices and low unsold volumes.

Even low-quality assortments were sought. ''Except for May, the packaging market has been doing well. We did a +11% turnover in the first quarter as compared to 2013. Our problem is the availability of material and the high prices because we are facing competition from loggers and traders who export beech of B/C quality to Maghreb and Asia,'' says Bertrand Jacquot, manager at a packaging company (La Palette Comtoise).

In the oak sector, where buyers reported the most low quality volumes, almost everything was bought (6% unsold volume), and prices were 20% up from last year. ''But the big sawmills haven't purchased much oak. At auctions organized in June, they have targeted a few quality batches, because in spring, faced with a shortage of wood, everyone took what was available, including the articles of poor quality,'' says Eric Cartailler, co-manager at Scierie Colas. He thinks that the oak ''specialists'' will be more present at the autumn auctions.

According to the France's National Office of Forests (ONF) and in one year, the price of oak has increased by 25%, with an average price of EUR 145/ per cubic meter recorded at the end of Q2/2014 (for example, the price was EUR 97/cbm in 2009).

Beech has also benefited from the overall improvement: in one year the price went up by 15%, with an average price of EUR 60/cbm, the highest level since 2009 (see table 2).

Without a doubt, the end of the summer season will bring very interesting auctions in September, especially for oak!

Oak price in Q1/2014 in Jura region

In EUR per cubic meter (on foot)

Volume

 

1 m3

 43 €
1,25 m3  65 €
1,5 m3  86 €
1,75 m3  104 €
2 m3  122 €
2,25 m3  138 €
2,5 m3  148 €
2,75 m3  160 €
3 m3  170 €

Source: Robert Wood, according to public auctions organized in Courlaoux on 12/06/14

Average prices of hardwood in Franche-Comté (in EUR/cbm; on bark; roadside)

 

First quarter 2012

First quarter 2013

First quarter 2014  Change

Oak

 107  116  145  +25%

Beech

 47  52  60  +15.3%

The First 8 Buyers in 2014

         In purchase value and on a volume of 95,000 m3 sold shaped

  Company Region    
1 Deschaseaux Haute-Saône (10% des achats)    
2 OGF

Haute-Saône (7% des achats)

   
3

Le Bois SA

AIN    
4

Marsolat

Haute-Saône    
5

Eurochêne

Jura    
6

Scierie du Gros Chêne

Doubs    
7

Cenci

Haute-Saône    
8

Scierie de Badevel

Doubs

   

Source : ONF Franche-Comté

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