Wood prices halved in Europe: Vaia and bark beetle’s fault

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And to think that until the autumn of last year traders and producers would have been willing to buy wood at any price. The raw material was in short supply, following the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and the demand from processing companies (for construction and furniture, but also for industrial packaging) was dizzying.

Prices halved across Europe

The pellets had reached the cost of 600 euros per ton, the lumber for packaging 400/480 euros, the laminated wood could reach 1,000/1,100 euros per cubic meter. «Today prices, on average, have halved. Sawmills are struggling with a huge quantity of product that they cannot sell”, he says Francesco Zanzotto, trader specialized in wood, confirming a downward trend in wood prices which began already in the second half of the year but which, for about a month now, has seen a strong acceleration, with values ​​halved (for example, fir, uncut, fell to 34.2 euros per cubic meter in the third quarter, compared to 75 euros in 2022). A situation that affects all of Europe and which is creating significant losses for sawmills, which have warehouses or yards full of logs purchased when prices were high, and now find themselves effectively selling off the goods.

Vaia and bark beetle: increase in collection

At the origin of this phenomenon, at least as far as Italy is concerned, there is still a long tail of the effects of Vaia, the storm that five years ago felled around 14 million trees from Friuli-Venezia Giulia to Lombardy, but above all in Veneto and Trentino. Storms of this kind, even much more violent ones, are not rare in Central Europe, so much so that, in managing the balance between supply and demand, forest managers take into account a certain quantity of disaster wood. «If the sampling takes place quickly, the material is still of good quality, comparable to that of standing trees», explains Alessandro Calcaterra, president of Fedecomlegno, the FederlegnoArredo association that represents traders and importers.

The problem, in the case of Vaia, is that it took a long time, both due to the difficult conditions of safety and accessibility to the fallen plants, and because historically in our country there is no structured forest supply chain for similar quantities, as has long been reported operators and companies in the wood-furniture supply chain, forced to purchase 80% of the wood they transform abroad. Many trees have remained in place for a long time and this fact, combined with the problem of global warming, has prompted the proliferation of . Hence the need to further accelerate forest harvesting, to save as many healthy plants as possible and the most valuable wood intended for carpentry, with the result that an enormous quantity of wood was placed on the market precisely at the moment in which, instead, demand from processing companies began to slow down, given the slowdown in the global economy.

«For months we have been bringing downstream quantities 4-5 times higher than normal volumes – he confirms Mauro Gilmozzi, president of the Magnificent Community of Fiemme -. Until last spring, demand supported the increase in sales values, but since June there has been a drop, even if we are now seeing a slight recovery, driven by foreign countries.”

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