Japan Wood Products
Dollar Exchange Rates of
31th October 2011
Japan Yen 75.95
Reports From Japan
Timber demand projections for fourth quarter 2011 and
first quarter 2012
Japan’s Forestry Agency has released projections for
demand for the fourth quarter of this year and the first
quarter of next year. A summary of these projections has
been reported by the Japan Lumber Reports (JLR).
According to the projections, during the fourth quarter
demand for logs to be used for sawnwood and plywood
production is forecast to be 3,580,000 cu.m, the same level
as the forth quarter last year. Of the total log demand,
imported logs are forecast to make up 1,145,000cu.m,
11.3% more than the fourth quarter last year.
As the plywood mills that were damaged in the March
earthquake will soon be back on-stream, log demand for
plywood production should increase in the fourth quarter
then ease slightly since the first quarter of each year is
traditionally a slow period for the timber industry, says the
Demand for imported plywood in the fourth quarter is
expected to continue to be firm as restoration work in the
quake hit areas gathers momentum.
N. American suppliers the main beneficiaries of
demand for logs
The Forestry Agency says the increased imports of logs
will mainly benefit North American suppliers. Demand for
logs in the fourth quarter will be driven by demand for
sawnwood for reconstruction in the quake hit areas and by
improving housing starts, however a slight downward
adjustment of demand is foreseen for the first quarter of
Forecasts suggest that demand for North American
sawnwood should also remain firm as housing starts
improve and this will be most apparent in the fourth
quarter and in the latter part of the first quarter.
Consumption by plywood mills continues to shift to
Demand for tropical logs in the fourth quarter is expected
to be no different from levels in the same quarter last year
however, the trend for plywood mills to shift to using
softwood logs is expected to continue.
Russian logs currently not competitively priced
The Forestry Agency is expecting demand for Russian
logs to fall in the fourth quarter as these logs are not
competitively priced. However, it is possible that new
price structures will emerge and this could lead to greater
Russian log imports in the first quarter, especially as
demand from Japanese sawmills for raw material grows.
Sawnwood demand forecast to rise and remain firm
into the fourth quarter
In contrast, the Forestry Agency says the consumption of
Russian sawnwood should increase in the forth quarter
even though ‘genban’ demand is currently limited due to
high inventories of this product.
Demand for Radiata pine sawnwood in the fourth quarter
is expected to increase and to remain at these levels into
the first quarter.
Large wholesalers sell off imported stocks for mid year book
During September, trading firms and large wholesalers
sold off stocks of imported plywood as it was mid way in
the financial year and the time to prepare interim company
This stock disposal added to the weak market prices for
plywood seen in August and fuelled further weakening
which has spilled over into October. The JLR reports that
it will be difficult for prices to recover in the short-term.
However, trading firms have been seeking higher prices on
imported plywood. The wholesale asking price for
concrete formboard, JAS 3x6 panels was Yen 980 per
sheet in the third week of the month but importers are now
asking Yen 1,000. Some report that inventories are getting
tight and that sales are rather steady with active orders
from DIY stores.
Currently, there is no more extremely low priced plywood
on the market however, markets vary by items and
Concrete formboard for coating moving well
Inventories of coated 2x6 are reportedly limited, but prices
are flat at Yen750 yen per sheet. Concrete formboard for
coating (3x6) is moving well for condominiums and
detached houses says the JLR and prices are about
Yen1,100 per sheet and firming.
Structural panel prices are down to about Yen 950 per
sheet because of high inventories but despite this
importers are asking Yen 1,000 per sheet. Malaysian
concrete formboard (JAS 3x6) export prices are around
Yen 42,000 yen per cu.m C&F says the JLR.
August arrivals of imported plywood were about 320,000
cu.m but they have been declining since the peak in May.
Slow start to construction of large scale wooden public buildings
It has been a year since the law promoting the use of wood
in public buildings was enacted.
In response to the new law the Ministry of Land,
Infrastructure and Transport first prepared standards for
wood use in public building maintenance.
Following this, 32 prefectural governments had, by the
end of September, prepared their own plans for wood use
initially in the maintenance of public buildings.
Although the law became effective a year ago, no large
scale public buildings have been built using wood and this,
says the JLR, is because it takes several years from the
design stage to actual construction of large public
Private house builders fastest to move on wood use in
large construction projects
The government’s call for the use of more wood in large
buildings has been taken up by the private sector. Many
large construction and house building companies, which
did not have the capacity to design large buildings using
wood, have newly established specialised divisions to
The JLR reports that there are moves to construct wooden
commercial buildings and offices. While private
construction companies have not seen any firm response
from local authorities for large size wooden public
buildings there are increasing numbers of projects for
medium sized wooden buildings for semi-public facilities
such as homes for senior citizens, nursery schools and
There are a number of problems to be overcome before
wooden public buildings become more common. One
problem is the availability and distribution of JAS certified
sawnwood which is limited says the JLR.
Over the past year more sawmills have secured JAS
certification but still the volume of JAS sawnwood is
Also, there is a lack of communication between architects
and the mills. For example, the JLR points out that
information on wood products (distribution volume, price
and performance) has not reached architects so they are
not equipped to take up the challenge of designing large
scale wooden buildings.