On June 10 the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry held its first ever online General Assembly in line with extant Belgian legislation.
One of main topics of the General Assembly was the country-by-country analysis of the impact that the sudden coronavirus outbreak had on the sawmill businesses. The EOS Members provided an exhaustive overview of the various market segments which depicted a mixed picture and an uncertain outlook for the coming months.
The market discussion was introduced by special guest David Hopkins, Managing Director of the UK Timber Trade Federation. The United Kingdom was, is and will remain a fundamental market for many European sawmills in spite of the structural shocks occurred over the last few years – covid-19 and the lengthy Brexit process. Mr Hopkins has emphasized several features that are characterizing the current market which were echoed by many EOS Members. Most countries in Europe have indeed seen buoyant Do It Yourself markets as people spent much more time at home this year diverting disposable income from entertainment to home improvement. The construction of temporary hospitals and major infrastructure projects added to demand for structural carcassing. The pallets and packaging sectors are also doing well on the back of a strong health and retail sector.
However, in general the coronavirus crisis has taken a heavy toll for many sawmills across Europe. While some forecasts some weeks ago predicted even more painful short-term effects for many businesses, restrictions on international trade and travel, volatile lumber markets, as well as restrictions for the construction sector, trade, and lumber purchasing industries have forced the sawmill industry to reduce its production. While it is difficult to make estimates due to the current high level of uncertainty, it seems that the industry can brace itself for a 10% production slump in 2020, but there are more downside risks than upside risks to this prediction. By-products markets are not doing well either, with chips in particular undergoing a rough patch.
Copy of the press release is available HERE.