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Japan Wood Products Prices

April 2010

Japan Wood Products Prices

Dollar Exchange Rates of  14th April 2010

Japan Yen 93.25

Reports From Japan

 Tropical log demand improves
Demand for tropical logs from manufacturers in Japan is
increasing according to the Japan Lumber Reports (JLR)
and FOB prices are firming on the back of this renewed

Plywood mills in Malaysia and Indonesia are maintaining
reduced production levels in the face of the weak demand
for plywood but there are indications that they have started
to rebuild log inventories. This is supporting an
improvement in domestic log prices.

Japan’s monthly consumption of tropical logs is around
45,000 cubic metres and this was maintained in January
but there are signs of slightly higher production levels in
Japanese mills so stocks must be falling.

Market prices for Sarawak Meranti Regular are currently
around Yen 6,400 per koku CIF up 200 from levels in
March. Prices of Yen 5,400 for Meranti Small and Yen
4,900 for Meranti Super Small are an improvement of
levels seen in March.

Supporting the upward movement in log FOB prices has
been renewed active buying for the Chinese and Indian
markets. The JLR is saying that log shipments during
April will be affected by a diminished supply in the
producer countries with Meranti Regular logs being
particularly affected.

Current prices for Meranti Regular are around US$190 per
cubic metre but suppliers are pushing for a price of
US$200. Kapur prices in Sabah are also moving up
sharply on the back of strong demand from buyers in

February plywood supply
The availability of both domestic and imported plywood
during February was 102% higher than in February 2009
and more than 100% more than in January this year.
However, plywood imports in February 2009 were the
lowest for 21 years, so this improvement is not so

Imports of plywood from all sources increased during
February. Imports from Malaysia were up 126% and
imports from Indonesia jumped 134%.

The biggest increase was seen in imports of plywood from
China which grew 250% because of the demand for low
priced Poplar crating plywood. According to the JLR
plywood inventory levels at the end of February were up
slightly from January levels.

Wood demand until Sept 2010
Japan’s Forestry Agency has released its wood demand
projections up to September 2010. The Agency is
forecasting an improvement in housing starts as a result of
the various stimulus measures introduced.

The main beneficiaries of the improved activity in the
building and construction sectors will be imported
sawnwood, plywood and structural laminated lumber. The
Agency foresees continued problems with sourcing sawn
Radiata from Chile.

North American log demand is expected to remain firm
but import volumes will likely remain at around 2.5 mil
cubic metres for the whole year, the same level as for

On the other hand, demand in Japan for N. American
sawnwood could improve over the next six months lifting
import levels above those of the same period last year.

European sawnwood imports started to increase from the
last quarter 2009 after there was a modest rebound in
purchases to replenish stock levels. However, any further
growth in demand is expected to be moderate, especially
as shippers will be looking for higher prices.

Plywood prices pushed up
The Japan Lumber Journal (JLR) is reporting that the
Seihoku Group, the largest plywood manufacturer in
Japan, has increased the wholesale price for structural
softwood plywood and will not entertain any negotiations
on price.

Apparently Seihoku accepted Yen 650 per sheet
(delivered) until the end of March but that now the price is
Yen 700 with further price increases planned. This move
by Seihoku is to reverse its loss making production.

The price of 24mm panels was previously Yen 1,300 but
has now been increased to Yen 1,400. 28mm panels are
priced at Yen 1,630 up from Yen 1,520 in late March.

In making this move to increase prices Seihoku is hoping
that other manufacturers will follow suit, a reasonable
gamble in the light of the expected increase in building

2009 wood product exports
The JLR is reporting that, according to data from the Japan
Wood Export Council, the total value of exports in 2009
fell by almost 13%, the first decline in three years. The
strong Yen and the diminished global demand for wood in
2009 are cited as the main reasons for the decline.

Japan’s log exports in terms of both volume and value
declined but higher volumes of veneer, plywood and
fibreboard were exported.

Log exports were down almost 22% because of weak
demand from China and Korea, the main markets. Taiwan
P.o.C and Vietnam are other significant buyers of logs
from Japan and for these markets export volumes


LM        Loyale Merchant, a grade of log parcel  Cu.m         Cubic Metre
QS         Qualite Superieure    Koku         0.278 Cu.m or 120BF
CI          Choix Industriel                                                       FFR            French Franc
CE         Choix Economique                                                        SQ              Sawmill Quality
CS         Choix Supplimentaire      SSQ            Select Sawmill Quality
FOB      Free-on-Board     FAS            Sawnwood Grade First and
KD        Kiln Dry                               Second 
AD        Air Dry        WBP           Water and Boil Proof
Boule    A Log Sawn Through and Through MR              Moisture Resistant
              the boards from one log are bundled                      pc         per piece      
              together                      ea                each      
BB/CC  Plywood grades. Letter(s) on the left indicate face veneer(s), those on the right backing veneer(s). Veneer grade decreases in order B, BB, C, CC, etc. MBF           1000 Board Feet          
              Plywood   MDF           Medium Density Fibreboard
BF         Board Foot F.CFA         CFA Franc        
Sq.Ft     Square Foot  PHND             Pin hole no defect grade
Hoppus ton     1.8 cubic metres              Price has moved up or down

Source: ITTO'  Tropical Timber Market Report

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