French oak market marked by uncertainty

French oak market marked by uncertainty

After 4 weeks of interruption, sales resumed in April in France's public forests. Because of the lockdown measures, they all took place online. 

For beech, the season is over and the April heat contributed to further deteriorating prices. At less than 40 euros/m3 by the roadside, sellers are now wondering if they should not follow the example of Swiss or German foresters who do not hesitate to direct some of these products to wood energy market. At the end of the campaign, maximum prices rose to 60 euros/m3 for cut beech logs, 100-110 euros / m3 if container loaded. 

For oak sawyers, the situation is not easy to grasp. The uncertain economic development calls for great caution. With few exceptions, the oak lumber is under pressure. Parquetry is slowing down and stocks of planks - a commodity prone to chapping - are increasing at the end of spring. When it comes to block goods, large industrial customers are in favor of the craftsmen, who, however, have no foreseeable order behavior and often only order small quantities. 

Regarding exports to Asia, Chinese buyers have selected the suppliers and operators who are well cashed and who have enough shops to manage container freight prices that have doubled since the beginning of the year (1). “For the moment, the demand is there because the factories have restarted in China and deliveries have been much delayed. I have been able to extend my export contracts and am currently loading containers, but no one can say how long this will last." This exporter does not rule out the hypothesis that the request of the Chinese domestic market is not sufficient to offset the abrupt cessation of consumption in Europe and the United States.

In the short term, prices for hardwood auctions will not rise again before autumn. David Chavot, Margaritelli sawmill, has two concerns: " If our suppliers fail to adapt to the request by reducing the supply, the price of oak wood threatens to fall and we will also lose valuable oak logs to China ." As a result, the director of Margaritelli France stands for a meeting of forestry and processing so that the quantities offered are promptly adapted to requirements: " Because neither forest owners nor sawyers are interested in a fall in oak prices ."