Since 2010, the consumption of birch peeler logs has increased by about 3 million m3 by the Russian birch plywood producers, and it will continue to do so in the future. A majority of the log consumption has occurred in the European part of Russia in connection to so called “birch belt”.
In Russia, there are more than ten announced birch plywood investment plans including both greenfield investments and expansions of existing facilities. These projects would increase the domestic birch log demand by almost 30%. This would result in even tighter supply-demand balance in the country.
Will the upcoming birch log export limitation ease up the situation? One could challenge this decision, as the largest birch log exporter regions are not the same as the largest birch plywood producer regions. It looks like the Russian plywood producers need to find other solutions to their increasing raw material challenges. To get their own forest lease areas could balance the potential log deficit. This might also have an impact on the associated cost levels. There is space to improve the existing wood sourcing operations (snow storages, better grading, use of smaller diameter logs, etc.).
How will this development affect the plywood industries other birch log consuming countries? Especially China is a significant industry that uses birch face veneers. Finland has been the second largest birch log importer but with significantly lower volumes.
Indufor’s Head of Forest Industry and Bio-Solutions Consulting, Mr. Jarno Seppälä, was speaking about these topics at the Trends of Substitution in Wood-based Panel Sector conference in Moscow, Russia, yesterday.
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