Digitalization has put pressure on the world’s trade of printing and writing paper. Over the past decade, global imports of printing and writing paper dropped from 47M tonnes in 2010 to 31M tonnes in 2020. In value terms, imports declined to $27.6B. The U.S., Germany and France remain the largest importers of printing and writing paper worldwide. China features as the only county that boosted its paper imports last year. In 2020, the average printing and writing paper import price fell by -3.2% y-o-y to $899 per tonne 2020. Germany, Indonesia, Finland and Sweden constitute the largest exporters of printing and writing paper.
Prices for MDF in the U.S. continue to shoot up amid a shortage of the product and the high demand from the furniture industry. Other factors that led to the jump in prices include the high cost of woody materials and resins for manufacturing MDF as well as increasing container freight rates. Strong demand for the product has led to a spike in imports to the U.S.. High prices for MDF negatively affect furniture sales, which have been decreasing in recent months due to a slowdown in the construction boom noted at the first half of the year. The fall in demand for furniture, coupled with the beginning of a decline in the cost of wood raw materials should lead to a decrease in prices for MDF in the coming months.
American lumber prices have decreased threefold, closing in on pre-COVID levels, which should drive global prices down. The change in lumber prices is largely influenced by slumping demand for real estate which became more expensive from diminished access. In Russia, the world’s largest supplier, a sharp increase in lumber exports led to a shortage in the domestic market. Attempting to hold the price growth instigated by that, the Russian government implemented 10% export duties on lumber until the end of 2021. Due to this, the main importers of Russian goods may opt for other suppliers.
In 2020, American plywood imports grew by +15% y-o-y to 5.4M or by +7.7% to $2.9B in value terms, reaching a record level over the past decade. Viet Nam, Brazil and Canada constitute the major plywood suppliers to the U.S., with a combined 41%-share of the total imports. Last year, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brazil, Viet Nam, Chile, Canada and Russia saw the most rapid increases in plywood exports to the U.S. In 2020, the average plywood import price in America dropped by -6.7% against the figures of 2019.
China’s imports of wrapping paper, packaging paper and paperboard reached the highest level ever, picking up by +54% to 892K tonnes in 2020. Russia, India and Viet Nam constitute the largest suppliers to China. Last year, Russia and India boosted their exports to China threefold, while Viet Nam saw a 58%-spike in terms of volume of exported products to China. In 2020, the average wrapping paper import price dropped by -24.1% y-o-y.
Last year, the American particle board imports grew by +13.2% y-o-y to 6.1M cubic meters or $2.1B in value terms due to an intensive housing building. Canada remains the prime particle board supplier to the U.S., boosting its exports by +44% y-o-y to $1.9B. The volume of supplies from Brazil to the U.S. has risen even more sharply by +69%. Average prices for imported particle board also indicates tangible growth.
Global wood pellet imports spiked by +9.2% y-o-y to $4.5B, reaching the highest point ever. The UK remains the largest wood pellet importer, accounting for 35% of the total global imports. Among leading importers, the Netherlands saw the most prominent growth of supplied volume last year. The average import price for wood pellets grew by +4.3% y-o-y in 2020. The U.S., Viet Nam, Canada, Latvia, Russia and Denmark constitute the prime exporters of wood pellets worldwide.
Global hardboard exports increased by +1.1% y-o-y to 3.6M cubic meters last year. Germany heads the list of the largest hardboard exporters worldwide, supplying 45% of its export volume to the U.S., France and Poland. In 2020, Brazil, Thailand, Romania, Turkey, Spain, Belgium and Canada recorded the most prominent export growth.
In 2020, European exports of household and sanitary paper articles rose by +1.1% y-o-y to 2.9M tonnes, which equated to $5.9B. Supplies from Germany, Italy, Poland and France constitute more than half of total European exports. Germany remains the second-largest exporter of household and sanitary paper articles worldwide and the prime supplier to other European countries. In 2020, the average export price for household and sanitary paper articles in the EU remained almost unchanged compared to the previous year’s figures.