Switzerland: uneven price dynamics at oak, ash and beech markets

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RW/Fordaq
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Tough time for the Swiss beech: best grades (A) barely cost 80 euros/m3.

Switzerland is no exception to the main trends currently observed in European timber markets. Oak prices continue to rise steadily, with the average increase being around 30% in two years. "In Switzerland, domestic demand is mainly oriented to high quality and specialty products," says sawmill owner Jacques Burgat, who also mentioned active dynamics of lumber business with neighboring European countries.

At the latest timber auction held at the end of March 2017 in Lausanne (see Table 1), all the oak lots presented in the catalog were sold out without problems and at very strong prices. The interviewed Swiss industry representatives believe that the situation will remain positive throughout the current year.

As to ash, demand remains satisfactory despite two unfavorable factors: cuts of substantial volumes following the ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea infestation) and the declining export flows in Asia due to the increased ocean freight costs. However, A / B qualities remain very competitive in Europe. As a result, the current price level satisfies the sellers despite a slight decrease.

On the other hand, the Swiss beech has a tough time. The first quarter of 2017 is characterized by significant decrease of roundwood prices, about -10% since late 2016 auctions. "Wood yard of panel plants are full and exports to China are weakening", noted Fritz Aegerter, one of the main wood merchants in Switzerland. 

As to softwood, it seems in 2017 the respective market is characterized by the dynamics similar to that of 2016, with prices that barely changed (see Table 2). At the market of wood destined for the energy sector there was observed demand for lower grades, but at the sawlog market forest owners suffer the negative impact of the a stronger Swiss franc and the increase in road transport costs on as of 1 January 2017. "We hope, however, that our ongoing Swiss timber promotion campaigns will start paying off in 2017," says Didier Vuarchoz, director of the сo-op La Forestiere.

Table 1.

 PRICE EVOLUTION OF ROUND HARDWOOD IN SWITZERLAND

                                                           Sorted wood, roadside prices in CHF / m3

                                                  Average prices observed during auctions in Lausanne

                                                              1 € = 1,07 CHF since 15/01/2015

         

  12/2015 03/2016 12/2016 03/2017
Oak

145

181 219      -
Ash

92

101 96 80
Beech 44 67 69 47

OAK PRICES IS ON RISE IN NEUCHÂTEL

      Auction sales of high cost grades A and A/B,  average prices in CHF/m3

                                                                            Organized by : ForêtNeuchâtel

  12/2012 12/2013 12/2014 12/2015 12/2016
Oak 310 424  494  412 518
Ash 170 155 140  151 136
Beech 122  112 118 121 86
Maple 316     358 812 517 659
Nut 642  534 525 541 1753
Linden 107   245 262 115 161

Source : Robert Wood

Table 2 :

CHANGES IN SOFTWOOD PRICES IN SWITZERLAND

                                                         Sorted wood, roadside prices in CHF / m3

                                                                   1 € = 1,07 CHF since 15/01/2015

  12/2015 06/2016 12/2016

Spruce :

L1 3C 76,30 75,02 77,21
L1 5-6 B 107,04 113,39 124,64
L1 2+ D 60,11 56,68 57,38

Fir :

L1 3C 67,04 67,21 67,59

L1 5-6 B

90,38 89,53 101,57
L1 2+ D 54,01 54,24 53,14

Source : ForêtSuisse, Agristat

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