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Expansion of pulp production in China and lack of domestic wood has resulted increased chip imports
Chinese pulp mills increasingly have to rely on imported wood chips for their wood fiber needs. In 2011, record volumes are being imported mainly from hardwood plantations in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly
Malaysia, Cambodia, Chile and Brazil are few of the recent and still small suppliers of hardwood chips to China. These countries, which all supply wood chips from fast- growing Eucalyptus and Acacia plantations, are likely to expand their shipments in the coming years when Chinese pulp mills continue to diversify their supply sources.
The wood chip imports in the first ten months of 2011 already equal more than the total volume of imports in all of 2010. This year’s imports will reach around seven million tons, or 37 percent higher than in 2010. This upward trend is expected to continue in 2012 and 2013 because the Chinese pulp industry is in an expansion mode.
Pulpmills in China consume practically only hardwood fiber, so imports of softwood chips were negligible up until last year when a few shipments started to enter Chinese ports from Australia, Russia, the US and New Zealand. This year, total softwood imports may reach just above 300,000 tons, or four percent of total chip imports.
The average value for imported wood chips has steadily increased, reaching $180/ton in the 3Q/11, or about 22 percent higher than the same quarter last year, as reported in the Wood Resource Quarterly. Vietnam is the lowest-cost supplier, while the cost for Eucalyptus chips from Australia were at the high-end in the 3Q.
The costs chips imported from the major supplying country Vietnam, have gone up almost 40 percent over the past two years. Vietnam is also shipping large chip volumes to Japanese pulp mills and it is interesting to note how the price discrepancy between chips exported to Japan and China has declined from almost $60/ton premium for Japanese-bound chips in 2009 to only $14/ton in the 3Q/11.
Global timber market reporting is included in the 52-page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The report, established in 1988 and with subscribers in over 25 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, lumber and pellet prices and market developments in most key regions around the world. To subscribe to the WRQ, please go to www.woodprices.com
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Wood Resources International LLC (WRI), an internationally recognized forest industry-consulting firm established in 1987, publishes two quarterly timber price reports and have subscribers in over 25 countries. The Wood Resource Quarterly, established in 1988, is a 50-page market report and includes delivered sawlog prices, pulpwood and wood chip price and market commentary to developments in global timber, biomass and forest industry.