2023 International Softwood Conference Quick Takes

2023 International Softwood Conference

To say there’s a lot going on in the international softwood community is an understatement. That’s what Southern Forest Products Association Director of Administration Alania Hanson found out at the 2023 International Softwood Conference in Vienna, Austria, from October 11-12.

SFPA will provide a full trip report from the 2023 International Softwood Conference, but here are a few quick takes:

  • A Southern Yellow Pine lumber surplus will allow the United States to remain a key player in the international softwood market community.
  • Recruiting the next generation of mill employees is becoming increasingly difficult. Labor shortages in sawmills in the United States will impact lumber production.
  • Housing starts have slowed down in the United States, but not as much as in Europe. As such, home renovations, rather than new construction, will continue to rise in popularity because of interest rates and inflation, so flooring and decking likely will be in higher demand.
  • U.S. housing starts projected to increase slightly by 2% in 2024 and 11% in 2025.
  • The developing EU regulations and initiatives may significantly impact softwood supply in Europe.
  • Globally, post-COVID-19 operating costs are on the rise as production has increased as work resumes.

The 2023 International Softwood Conference offered the opportunity to review and discuss trends in the timber market focusing on facts and figures showing softwood production as well as consumption in the most relevant countries for the business not just in Europe.

Speakers gauged what the future holds as sawmillers and timber traders adapt with a changing world and how policy measures taken at national and European level are affecting the business.

Keith Fryer, from left, president of the UK Timber Trade Federation, moderates a panel discussion on the global economic outlook for softwoods with Paul Jannke (United States), Forest Economic Advisors principal; Mathias Fridholm (China), Svenskt Tr? senior advisor; Gerd Ebner (Middle East/North Africa), Timber-Online.net editor in chief; and Eiji Sahara (Japan), Hanwa Co. head of lumber division.