France: Maritime pine maintains firm prices

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The prices of maritime pine stand firm in the southwest of France

Good news for forest owners in southwestern France. In a French softwood roundwood market that has generally tended to falter, maritime pine stands firm this year. Over the course of the first half of 2015, prices have aligned at high levels, while over the last six months of the year, price stability prevailed. 

This observation applies in particular for roundwood with a volume larger than 1 m3, intended for producing lumber. ''In late autumn, the large volume roundwood (1,5 m3) is still marketed at around 40 euro/m3, standing, under bark,'' says Emmanuel de Montbron, manager of a forestry group in Gironde and of a company that markets wood from various private owners. Since June 2013, the value of the French maritime pine went up by an average of 30%, with small timbers (0,5 m3) reaching even 50% price increase (see table below).

This substantial increase for lower volumes probably explains why prices for small timbers declined slightly at the end of 2015 (-2% to -3% over the last six months). ''We see, in effect, a slight decrease in prices for pulpwood, probably due to a mobilization that was very active last year as the prices were very attractive,'' Mr. Montbron says. 

This good performance of roundwood is nevertheless part of a market environment in which lumber doesn't respond. Prices for maritime pine scantlings are not the best, while those for maritime pine which goes to the packaging industry have declined recently (-3% on average over the last quarter for qualities 3 and 4). We must therefore look elsewhere for the reason why maritime pine roundwood maintains this high price level. 

The explanation lies in the availability of the resource in the forests, the latter not being sufficient to supply the regional demand for wood energy, pulpwood and sawnwood. And for the upcoming years, we could expect significant changes in the maritime pine supply industry of the Aquitaine region. A recent study shows that, taking into account a low industrial demand and a dynamic harvest (8-9,000,000 m3 / year), 1 million m3 are still missing to meet industrial needs through 2020 in Aquitaine.

Indeed, the stocks of wood resulted from the ravages of the storm Klaus came to exhaustion in 2015. Therefore, industrial needs will have to rely only on fresh wood. However, after two major storms in a period of 10 years, the mountains of Landes de Gascogne are dying. Some 75 million m3 of wood were thrown down to the ground by Martin in 1999 and by Klaus in 2009, the equivalent of 10 annual crops. For 2016 and years to follow, we must logically expect that the raw material price to be supported by the southwestern France maritime pine. 

By the end of 2015, there is still no price drop for the French maritime pine

                     Standing timber prices in euro/m3 under bark 

       Public sales ONF Landes

  June 2013 June 2014 October 2014 May 2015 October 2015
0,5 m3 21,9 31 34 34 33
0,75 m3 25,4 33 37 36 35
1 m3 28 34 39 37,5 37
1,25 m3 29,9 35,5 40 38,5 38,5
1,5 m3 31,4 36,5 41 40 40
1,75 m3 32,9 37,5 42,5 41 41
2 m3 34 38 43,5 42 42

The prices of the maritime pine up increased on average by 30% since June 2013. Over the last six months in 2015 the prices are stable

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