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Wood fibre prices tumble globally

Global wood fibre prices in the 4Q/08 experienced the largest drop in over 20 years,
according to the Wood Resource Quarterly.
The WRQ Global Average Wood Fibre Price Indices recorded their sharpest quarterly
decline since their inception in 1988, as wood fibre consumption by struggling pulp and
paper industries decreased worldwide in the 4Q/08.
The Global Average Wood Fibre Price is a volume-weighted average of delivered wood
fibre prices for the pulp industry in all 17 regions tracked by the publication Wood
Resource Quarterly (WRQ). These regions together account for 85-90% of the world’s
wood-based pulp production capacity. As wood cost accounts for 40-50% of the total
pulp production costs, it is often the predominant factor determining a company’s or a
region’s competitiveness.
The average softwood fibre price fell 12% to $97.32/odmt in the 4Q/08. This
substantial reduction was both the result of a stronger US dollar against all currencies in
the WRQ regions with the exception of Japan, and because of lower costs in the local
currencies in western Canada, Sweden, France, Russia, Australia and Western US. Wood
fibre costs in Western US have fallen by 22% in just six months.
The average hardwood fibre cost fell 11% in the 4Q/08 to US$98.38/odmt, the lowest level since the 2Q/07. The biggest declines in the local currencies came in Western US, Chile, Japan, Russia and France. Eucalyptus pulp log prices in Chile have fallen almost 40% in 12 months (in US dollar terms) reaching their lowest levels in over
four years. Pulpwood costs in Chile continue to be the lowest in all regions tracked by the
The fourth quarter was a gloomy quarter for the global forest industry. Every price
indicator pointed downward, including prices for pulp, paper, lumber and wood panels.
Prices for sawlogs, pulpwood and wood chips also declined, which was good news for
manufacturers but increased the reluctance by many landowners to harvest timber. The
only wood-manufacturing sector that was able to keep prices up was the wood pellet
producers as demand continued to be strong, particularly in Europe.
The continued decline in demand for pulp and paper worldwide will force additional
capacity to close temporary or permanently and, with reduced competition for wood
fiber, it can be expected that wood fiber costs will continue to slide in 2009.