The Coronavirus has not stopped the global trade of forest products

Wood pulp trade expands in March over February

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Forest Photo Elke Karin Lugert via Unsplash
Photo Elke Karin Lugert via Unsplash

The Coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted the supply chains for numerous industry sectors worldwide the past few months. Many commodity products saw reduced trade during March and April, a result of reduced demand, closures of manufacturing facilities to protect workers, constraint in the handling capacity of goods at many ports, and widespread financial distress. However, one sector that has remained fairly strong during the initial period of the epidemic is the forest products industry.

Demand for toilet paper, face masks, disinfecting wipes, corrugated paper for cardboard boxes, and wood products for home renovations are just a few forest products that have been in unusually high demand in many countries during this spring.

A closer look at the March 2020 trade data, the first ‘Coronavirus month.’ reveals that global trade of lumber, logs, wood chips and pulp increased in March as compared to the previous month. The following snapshot illustrates a few interesting examples from the Wood Resource Quarterly of positive developments in the forest industry sector from February to March this year:

Softwood Logs – China increased imports by 14% m-o-m, with most of the added logs originating from New Zealand, Germany and Russia. Log imports to South Korea rose 19%, while Australia and Canada shipped about 70% more logs in March than in the previous month.

Softwood Lumber – Lumber shipments from New Zealand and Canada were up 32% and 25% m-o-m, respectively. Lumber importation was up in most of the major markets in March, including China (+59% m-o-m), the US (+27%), the United Kingdom (+13%), and Japan (+10%).

Wood Pulp – Three of the four largest pulp-exporting countries, Brazil, the US and Chile, increased their shipments between 12% and 26% in March (m-o-m). The five top importing countries all purchased more pulp in March than in February, with China and South Korea increasing their volumes the most (40% and 29% respectively).

Hardwood Chips – China, Portugal, and South Korea imported more chips for their pulp industry in March than in the previous month. Most of the major chip-exporting countries, including Australia, Thailand, South Africa, and Brazil shipped more chips in March than in February.

In the coming months, numerous countries around the world are planning to ease lockdown policies and loosen the rules that are restricting house constructions, international commerce and consumer shopping. These changes may further benefit many companies in the forest industry sector. However, expect a rough road ahead.

Interested in wood products market information from around the world? Please consider subscribing to the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ), a 56-page report, established in 1988 and with subscribers in over 30 countries. The report tracks prices for sawlog, pulpwood, lumber & pellets worldwide and reports on trade and wood market developments in most key regions around the world. For more insights on the latest international forest product market trends, please go to www.WoodPrices.com

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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