Naturally, lumber producers that only operate nationally tend not to worry about what the international lumber market looks like. There’s no problem operating this way, especially if the international market has little effect on your product. For lumber producers who want a more in-depth look at the global lumber market, however, this article’s for you!
By looking at the world’s largest lumber producers and consumers by country, lumber professionals can get an idea of the relationships between the world’s largest lumber producers and how those relationships could shape the market going forward.
*Statistical Data from 2020*
1. Roundwood (Raw Timber)
Export – New Zealand
Although it may appear small on a map, New Zealand is no newbie on the international stage when it comes to lumber producers. For roundwood, the raw timber that’s harvested from forests, New Zealand lead the world in exports making up 16% of the global supply in 2020.
Despite its size, New Zealand has a wealth of natural resources, especially timber. If managed correctly, New Zealand could continue to be one of the top lumber producers for roundwood exports for years to come.
Import – China
With massive industrial needs, it’s no surprise that China was the largest importer of roundwood in 2020 – importing a staggering 44% of the world’s supply of roundwood.
2. Sawn Wood
Export – Russia
Responsible for exporting more than a fifth, 21%, of the world’s sawn lumber supply, is Russia. This, through a modern lens, could prove to be fairly problematic for global lumber producers and purchasers. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, massive sanctions were levied on Russia that has already proved to have a dramatic impact on commodity goods such as oil.
Going forward, other global lumber producers will have to step up to fill the gap that Russia has left in the global supply. Although the War in Ukraine is only a few months old, global lumber producers will have to be ready to produce more sawn lumber in 2022 to meet demand.
Import – China
In 2020, China imported 23% of the global supply of sawn wood. With the seemingly never-ending development of Chinese cities, the need for massive imports of sawn wood is there.
3. Panel Products
Export – China
When it comes to wood panel products, the Chinese export the most, exporting 14% of the world’s supply of wood panel products. Importing more roundwood and sawn wood than any other country, it’s no surprise that China is one of the biggest lumber producers for engineered wood.
Import – United States
The United States was the world’s largest importer of panel products in 2020, importing 17% of the global supply. Despite a constantly shaky relationship with the Chinese, it’s interesting to see the interconnectedness these two powers have when it comes to wood panel products.
4. Wood Pellets
Export – United States
No, it’s not a typo! Wood pellets are one of the most numerous wood products on the planet. Made with sawdust and compression, wood pellets are used in horse bedding, as fuel for fires, and for other practical uses. Used in several different industries, wood pellets are an important part of the global lumber economy.
As far as wood pellets go, the United States is responsible for 23% of the world’s exports. As the predominant superpower in the world, lumber producers everywhere shouldn’t have to worry about a possible decrease in wood pellet supply for years to come.
Import – United Kingdom
In 2020, the United Kingdom imported 33% of the global supply of wood pellets. Although not nearly the size that it once was, the UK still imported a staggering 1/3 of the wood pellets available, making it a huge customer for lumber producers.
5. Paper Pulp
Export – Brazil
Although it may sound odd to us who work with industrial lumber on a day-to-day basis, paper pulp, or wood pulp, is a vital lumber material. Although the product isn’t as vital to society as it once was, paper pulp is still imported and exported at a massive scale every year. Because it’s smaller on the world stage, lumber producers everywhere might be surprised to learn that Brazil is responsible for 25% of the world’s wood pulp supply.
Import – China
Importing 40% of paper pulp on the global market, China is surprisingly reliant on other lumber producers for its products.
Lumber Producers and the Lumber Market’s Future
Looking at the largest lumber producers and consumers on the globe gives a unique insight to lumber professionals. Knowing the largest lumber producers of a product, what’s going on with that country, and who’s purchasing the most of that product can give lumber professionals an idea of what may happen in the market going forward.
Lumber producers don’t need to sweat going forward despite increasingly shaky relationships between global powers. Aside from the lack of sawn wood in 2022, due to the exclusion of Russia in global markets, the global lumber market is still a strikingly interconnected place.
Because of the economic interdependence of some of the world’s largest lumber producers, the global lumber market should prove relatively healthy going beyond 2022.