Oak logs prices booming in France

May 24, 2018
Source:
Fordaq
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Oak has become priceless in France! This statement may seem exaggerated but the examination of the auction results for the first five months of 2018 leaves no doubts about the current state of the oak market in France. Year-on-year and on average (see table 1), the price increase of logs reached 25%, exceeding 50% over two years.

In Aube, at a private sale organized by Groupement Champenois, the oak logs of 1.5 m3 which were sold in 2010 at 100 euros/m3, are now worth 170 euros/m3 (+70%). In Haute-Marne, at the auction organized by ONF (Office national des forêts), the prices of oak logs rose by 15% in just 3 months (as compared to the November 2017 ONF sale in the same region. On average, each lot collected 10 bids, with a record of 23 bids. 

In the Ardenneds, during February 2018, an annual increase of about 15% was recorded, with the most valuable lots going to more than 500 euros/m3. A month later, the same trend was observed in Burgundy with a demand that doubled over a year (11.5 offers on average in March 2018 in Châtillon-sur-Seine against 6.4 a year earlier). Certain categories of products (quality C and D) saw their prices increase by 22% over one year.

At the end of March in the Jura, the ONF observed an average increase of 25% for oaks. And in the Doubs, at the end of April, tariffs for roadside logs literally exploded in Pouilley-les-Vignes (see table 2). Today, some staves are trading at around 600 euros/m3 and more. "In these conditions, says Jerome Vacandare, forestry operator in the Eure-et-Loir, I do not slice logs anymore because, at what price are now the staves selling, I prefer not to waste a good lot and sell it in full to my French coopers customers."

In addition to staves and veneer, exports to China and strong demand in all other sawnwood products, the structural shortage of raw materials was aggravated in early spring by adverse weather conditions. All this explains the tensions with the purchases and the current explosion of the prices of the oak.

Towards a substitution of oak?

Regarding the beech logs, even if prices did not change much (see table 3), demand is at a very satisfactory level for sellers. The take-over bids have almost doubled in most public auctions in late winter-early spring. However, the best offers do not exceed 75 euros/m3, while average sales at around 60 euros/m3 roadside. 

The good news come from the ash, which is currently a very dinamic market. Exports outside of the EU (the same applies to beech) are influencing the market. Demand has increased again since the beginning of 2018, and log prices are up significantly, + 20% over 1 year for the best qualities, with an average of around 100 euros / m3 on the roadside. 

"The ash that is requested both in white and gray by the French carpenters, has become a substitute," says Éric Catailler, the manager of the Sawmill Colas in Ain. This phenomenon, which began in 2017, now seems to be growing and the ash is benefiting. And if the excitement on the oak market would continue in the 2 nd half of 2018, other species could also benefit.

Table 1:

Strong growth in oak prices in France's Eastern region
Price in euros / m3 of logs
Jura ONF public sales 
Source: Robert Wood

 

Q1 / 2016

Q1 / 2017

Q1 / 2018

Evolution 2016/2018 

Evolution 2017/2018

1 m3

98

116

157

+ 60%

+ 35%

1.5 m3

129

157

202

+ 57%

+ 29%

2 m3

151

186

233

+ 54%

+ 25%

2.5 m3

168

209

258

+ 54%

+ 23%

3 m3

182

225

278

+ 53%

+ 24%

3.5 m3

-

245

294

-

+ 20%

Table 2:

Oak prices in Franche-Comté 
Price in euros / m3 of oak logs
Public sales of ONF in Pouilley-les-Vignes (Doubs), April 18, 2018 
Source: Robert Wood

1 m3

177

1.5 m3

233

2 m3

274

2.5 m3

307

3 m3

332

3.5 m3

353

4 m3

373

Table 3:

Stable beech prices in Franche-Comté 
Prices in euros / m3 
Jura (2016-2017) and Doubs (2018) ONF sales 
Source: Robert Wood

 

Q1 / 2016

Q1 / 2017

Q1 / 2018

Evolution over 1 year

1 m3

50.8

45.5

53.5

+ 17.6%

1.5 m3

54.5

53

56

+ 5.7%

2 m3

57.4

56.75

57.75

+ 1.8%

2.5 m3

59.4

60.4

59

-2.3%

3 m3

60.5

63.2

60.25

-4.7%