European lumber exporters have expanded their sales overseas from 30% to 45% over the past ten years, with Asia receiving a fifth of total exports in 2020.
Historically, most of the shipments were to neighboring countries on the continent, and only about 20% were shipped overseas to the Middle East/Northern Africa (MENA), the US, and Japan.
In 2020, this share had grown to 45%, with shipments to China having expanded the most.
The four largest producers and exporters of softwood lumber in Europe are Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Austria.
Together they produced just over 56% of Europe’s total lumber production in 2019, and the international shipments by these “Top 4” accounted for about two-thirds of continent’s total export volume.
Over the past decade, this group has increased exports by about 20% to an estimated 36 million m3 in 2020, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly. Practically all of the expanded sales have been to overseas markets, predominantly China and the US, but also to several smaller markets in Asia, including India, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Australia.
In 2020, over 65% of Finland’s lumber exports have gone to markets outside Europe.
However, Finland remains the only country in the “Top 4” that has not yet expanded into the massive US lumber market. Sweden and Germany have shipped about 45% of their lumber exports overseas.
Austrian sawmills still predominantly sell to neighboring countries, with Italy, Germany, and Slovenia accounting almost 70% of their total export volumes during the first six months of this year.