Southern Pine Attracts Global Interest at Interzum 2023

Interzum 2023

Eight SFPA members and seven other delegates, including representatives from the Softwood Export Council, represented American Softwoods at Interzum in Cologne, Germany, from May 9-12, 2023.

Interzum is a must for American softwood traders interested in doing business in Europe. Although it’s primarily a furniture show, Interzum also has a significant number of timber exhibitors from Europe and beyond, especially from China, India, and South America. There were 1,600 exhibitors from 59 countries, and foreign exhibitors accounted for 84% of the total.

Interzum 2023 Experience

Interzum is much more than just a European show, with only 34 of the 70 written commercial inquiries received at the American Softwoods booth coming from European countries.

That’s not a surprise, as European economies are at best experiencing stuttering growth now with Germany in recession, which is expected to persist for the remainder of 2023. The United Kingdom’s economy is suffering higher inflation and lower growth than EU countries, and while employment is at record levels, it’s the only driver of growth rather than productivity gains, which remain elusive.

Interzum 2023 attracted 62,000 visitors, down from 74,000 in 2019, from 150 countries. And even though visitor totals to the American Softwoods booth were marginally up to 70 compared to 66 at the last show in 2019, AMSO representatives felt the quality of inquires received more than made up for the relatively low quantity.

Side note: The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), which also had a booth at Interzum 2023, noted a record number of exhibitors wishing to investigate European markets in the wake of reducing sales to China.

American Softwoods in Europe, United Kingdom

Europe is a mature market which continues to offer niche opportunities for U.S. softwood companies.

Sales of American softwoods and treated lumber in Europe and the United Kingdom were $37.2 million in 2022, identical to sales in 2021 but well ahead of 2020’s $25.8 million. The first quarter of 2023 has seen sales of $7.7 million, slightly behind pace of the $7.9 million in 2022.

Spain continues to show modest gains, with sales of $2.6 million in 2022, up from $2.4 million in 2021. This is a good sign, as Spain has been a traditional destination for American softwoods for many years. Sales diminished severely during the Spanish recession between 2009 and 2015 but now look to be on a sustainable upward path.

Sales of treated lumber to EU countries showed a healthy increase to $10.7 million in 202220, up from $6 million in 2021 and driven by increased demand for Southern Yellow Pine decking. Holland is the largest market with $9.7 million in 2022 followed by Germany at $400,000. Sales of veneers were flat at $4 million in 2022.

Southern Yellow Pine remains the dominant species, although some western species have shown interesting increases. Lodgepole pine sales were $5 million in 2022 compared to $760,000 in 2016. Sitka spruce, which had $5 million in sales in 2022, is enjoying a revival in interest, thanks largely to its use in manufacturing pianos in Germany.

SFPA members: Don’t forget to check out the contacts secured during the show and their corresponding contact information on our members-only site!