Since 2020, the French wood market has shown a mixture of trends, with environmental concerns affecting consumer choices and government policies influencing market growth. Despite a growing forest area in France, which amounts to 31% of the national territory, the wood sector as a whole has seen a decline. Sales in the sector fell by 12% to 53 billion euros, and employment also dropped from 440,000 to 372,000. In addition, the number of sawmills has fallen considerably, and forecasts point to a further decline, from 1,494 in 2017 to just 350 by 2030.roundwood sales amounted to 38.1 million cubic meters, a slight decline of 2%, with the lumber segment accounting for the bulk of the harvest. France's raw timber trade deficit worsened, rising by 7.8% to 7.37 billion euros.

The broader world market reflects varied performances, with China and the USA leading the way in sawnwood production, recording significant growth. Short-term climatic variations, economic cycles and changing consumer preferences shape immediate market dynamics, while long-term determinants include growing environmental awareness influencing consumer choices and public policies advocating the use of wood.

Wood market dynamics and consumption trends in France

In recent years, the French wood industry has evolved in a difficult context, marked by growing environmental awareness and strong international competition. Consumer awareness of sustainable practices has influenced purchasing behavior, with many opting for certified ecological products, particularly in the paper industry, where the use of recycled paper has risen from just over 60% to around 70%. Despite these favorable trends, the French wood market contracted. After peaking at around 65 billion euros, the sector's sales dropped to almost 60 billion euros, before continuing to decline to around 53 billion euros. This decline in economic performance also affected employment in the sector, which fell from around 440,000 to around 370,000 over the same period.

Sawmills, an important subset of the French timber market, have nevertheless proved resilient, with sales increasing to over 2 billion euros in recent years. However, from a broader perspective, France's raw timber trade deficit is on the rise, with a notable increase of around 7-8%. Public policies focused on promoting renewable energies and wood in construction point to a promising future for the wood sector. In addition, the crackdown on single-use plastics is opening up opportunities for biodegradable wood-based alternatives.

On the other hand, weather changes and economic fluctuations, which affect sectors such as construction and furniture, are potential risks for wood demand. The construction sector, which has a major influence on demand for wood, has seen a fall in housing permits of around 20%. This drop, which follows a 30% increase, underlines the volatility of the construction-oriented wood market. conversely, the furniture market grew by over 4%, reflecting growing consumer interest in interior decoration.

French raw timber production remains high, with sales volumes holding steady at between 35 and 40 million cubic meters over the past decade. However, sawmill activity is showing a downward trend, with only 10% of the initial 1960 operators expected by 2030.

In conclusion, the French timber market finds itself at a crossroads where environmental awareness, changing consumer preferences and public policy intersect with traditional industrial challenges. Despite some constraining factors, there are clear paths for growth, innovation and adaptation to more sustainable practices in the sector.

Key players shaping the French wood market landscape

The French wood market involves a variety of important players, playing different roles in the journey from forest to end product. These companies contribute to different market segments, from forest harvesting to sawing operations, and even to the trade and distribution of wood products. Here, we present some of the main players who have carved out a place for themselves in this sector.

  • Office national des forêts (ONF) The ONF is a public body responsible for managing France's public forests. It plays an essential role in ensuring sustainable forest management, not only in terms of biodiversity conservation, but also in terms of timber production in state-owned forests and forests belonging to local authorities, which total 4.7 million hectares in mainland France.
  • PEFC France and FSC France The two main organizations, PEFC France (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) and FSC France (Forest Stewardship Council), certify wood and forests in France, representing sustainable forest management standards and practices. Certification by these organizations guarantees consumers and businesses that the wood products they use or sell come from responsibly managed forests.
  • FCBA (Institut technologique de la forêt, de la cellulose, du bois-construction et de l'ameublement) As an industrial technical center, the FCBA plays a crucial role in supporting innovation and technological development in the wood sector. It also provides valuable statistics and market information, such as data on the activities of sawmills and other wood-related industries.
  • Companies in the sawmilling sector The sector has undergone a process of consolidation, with larger sawmills expanding and smaller ones closing down for lack of successors or buyers. Some notable regional players in the market are concentrated in regions such as Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Nouvelle Aquitaine and Grand Est, known for their strong sawmilling activities.
  • Saint Gobain, with subsidiaries such as Point P, Brossette, CEDEO and Asturienne, leads the distribution market. They are followed by other influential groups such as GEDEX (Gedimat and Gedibois), Tout Faire (Tout Faire Bois) and BigMat. These dealers are adapting to the challenges posed by the rise of DIY trends and the increasing prevalence of digital and specialist online sellers.
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Summary and extracts

1 Market summary

1.1 Definition and scope of study

All the activities of the wood sector in France include a large number of actors, forestry activities (term defined by as "all techniques allowing the creation and rational exploitation of forests while ensuring their conservation and regeneration") and from the production of raw wood to the finished products: pulp, furniture, carpentry, and others. This study will focus on activities related to the production of raw wood and sawing and planing, although it gives an overview of the different customer markets in this sector.

In a context of growing environmental awareness from the part of consumers, the wood market in France is struggling to develop and suffers from fierce competition with other countries. Despite the good export performance of certain types of wood (in particular oak), sawmill operations have been falling sharply and only less than 10% of the companies that were operating in the 1960s are operating today. Similarly, the total volume of raw wood harvested has not been progressing for more than a decade now.

Yet, the surface area of forests in France has been increasing every year for three decades now. However, the growth of the different customer segments of wood is divided; while the furniture and carpentry markets have been growing, the construction and paper pulp markets have been shrinking.

In terms of prices, the general overall trend is that they are increasing, however, there are some exceptions to this trend. For instance, between 2018 and 2019, while the price of hardwood increased by 2.6%, the average price of firewood decreased by 3.4%.

Silvicultural operators and sawmills can find support with proactive public policies promoting the use of wood, both in the energy and construction sectors. These European directives have been developing for several years now, and should eventually bear fruit and thus give a boost to the French sector.

Finally, the wood market is divided can be divided into 4 different segments: Forest exploitation, woodwork operations, wooden packaging production and dealers and distributors (typically of end products directly to customers).

1.2 A healthy global market, driven by the United States and China

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations updates annually a complete database on wood production and trade balance, by country and wood products/varieties, since ****.


In ****, world production of industrial roundwood amounted to *,*** million m³, a decrease of *.*% from **** (***) [***].

Roundwood production by region World, ****-****, in millions of ...

1.3 The French wood market following a negative trend

Turnover on the French market

The entire French timber sector has been shrinking over the last few years. Just between **** and ****, the sector's turnover fell by *%, from €**.* billion to €** billion [***]. Moreover, the number of people employed in this sector also fell, from ***,*** in **** to ***,*** in ****.

Turnover of the French wood market France, ...

1.4 Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

The covid-** pandemic has equally shaken the wood market as it has the global economic market. As an approximation, official estimates from the French government were that the whole forest-wood sector would fall by *% in ****, in comparison to its **** results [***].

For instance, the pandemic caused a global decrease in demand for ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Long-term determinants

The wood sector in the face of the emergence of an environmental awareness

In recent years, the wood sector has been suffering from an increase in environmental awareness from the part of consumers [***]. On the one hand, forest exploitation often connotes with deforestation in popular opinion. However, this is wrong when ...

2.2 Short-term determinants

Meteorological disasters

Weather conditions have an impact on the activities of forest-based industries, both on the supply and on demand side. In the latter case, winter temperatures have a strong influence on wood energy consumption. Low temperatures and prolonged cold spells increase heating requirements. Energy wood (***) is generally used as a ...

2.3 Overview of the main customer markets

New construction market

Given how one of the main uses of timber is in the construction of buildings, how this sector performs has a significant impact on the demand for the product. Since the beginning of ****, the number of authorisations for housing construction has been following a downwards trend, recently accelerated ...

3 Market structure

3.1 French production of the raw material wood

In ****, **.* million cubic metres of roundwood (***) were commercialised in France, a decrease of *% compared to ****. However, despite this slight decrease, the harvest of roundwood have been somewhat stable since ****, ranging between ** and ** million [***].

Roundwood sales France, ****-****, in millions of cubic meters Source: ****

In terms of types of wood harvested, softwood ...

3.2 Panorama of French forests

According to the National Forestry Office, public forests cover *.* million hectares in metropolitan France or *% of the territory. Of these, *.* million hectares are state-owned, and *.* million hectares are owned by local authorities. The overseas territories include * million hectares of public forests, supported by French Guiana. [***]

If we add private forests, the ...

3.3 French sawmills are in difficulty

When observed over the long term, sawmill operations have drastically decreased. From the **,*** sawmills that existed in **** in France, only **% of these operate in **** (***).

Number of sawmill establishments France, ****-****, in units Source: ****

However, the trend is moving towards consolidation; large sawmill companies continue to grow faster than average, when small ...

3.4 The timber trade is mainly dependent on construction

Wood trading activities are clearly dependent on the construction activities in France. These are therefore constrained by the decline in the number of authorisations for housing constructions in **** (***).

The turnover of wood traders increased by *.*% in ****, but is expected to slow down in the coming years [***]. This is because traders are ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 Pulpwood and energy

Pulpwood is used for the manufacture of cellulose pulp, fibreboard and particleboard. It is obtained by the combined action of friction and high pressure on the material under consideration.

According to the latest figures from Agreste published in **** for the last quarter of ****, crushing wood prices increased by *.*%, while firewood prices ...

4.2 Whole trunk woods

A log defines the trunks of trees that are not yet squared, i.e. cut at right angles. The Centre d'Etudes de l'Economie du Bois (***) provides quarterly information on the prices recorded for the various logs.

The oak tree

There are different products made directly from oak wood. Depending on the ...

4.3 Technical costs of machinery and forestry operations

According to the the FCBA memento for the year ****, the productivity and cost of technical forestry machines are summarized in the table below:

Source: ****

These costs include fixed costs (***) and staff costs. They do not take into account other expenses related to the business.

The main factors of variation are site ...

5 Rules and regulations

5.1 Nomenclature of French Activities

The Nomenclature des Activités Françaises, or NAF, refers to the classification of economic activities set up by INSEE. There have been several versions since ****. The last revision of NAF was adopted at the end of ****, and implemented in ****.

According to the, "it is a four-digit nomenclature ...

5.2 National policy framework

According to the, "two major documents provide a framework for national policy on forests and wood. This is the National Forest and Wood Program (***).

The first was prepared in **** and was published by decree on * February ****. Its design brought together all the professional and institutional players in the sector. ...

List of charts

  • Production de bois rond par continent
  • Production de bois rond par pays
  • Production de bois de sciage par continent
  • Répartition de la production du bois de sciage par pays
  • Chiffre d'affaires du marché du bois français
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Latest news

Saint-Gobain ready to set up in Australia for 2.5 billion euros - 22/02/2024
  • Saint-Gobain proposes to acquire the entire capital of CSR
  • The CSR Group has some 40 production sites worldwide, around 130 sales outlets and 2,800 employees.
  • CSR's total revenues for the 2022-2023 financial year amounted to A$2.6 billion.
  • By 2022, North America and emerging markets already accounted for 62% of Saint-Gobain's operating income, compared with 40% in 2018.
France's leading pallet manufacturer acquires competitor Hoekman Houtindustrie - 20/01/2024
  • PGS, a French group specializing in wooden pallets, recently acquired the Dutch company Hoekman Houtindustrie.
  • Hoekman Houtindustrie achieved sales of €14.7 million in 2022.
  • Hoekman Houtindustrie employs 34 people.
  • PGS now has two sites in the Netherlands, one in the south near the Belgian border and the other in the northeast.
  • PGS claims to be the European leader in new and reconditioned wooden pallets.
  • PGS has forecast sales of 482 million euros for 2022.
  • PGS currently employs 900 people. PGS is present on 50 sites.
PGS strengthens its vertical integration - 10/01/2024
  • PGS, founded in 1993, is Europe's leading provider of reverse logistics services and new and reconditioned pallets.
  • The company has 50 sites in 10 countries.
  • It employs 900 people. PGS achieved sales of 482 million euros in 2022.
  • The company acquired a 50% stake in Ide Group, a Belgian sawmill.
  • Ide Group, founded in 1984, is based in Zulte, Belgium.
  • The company employs 65 people.
  • Ide Group has sales of 28 million euros.
PGS: Jean-Louis Louvel is Entrepreneur of the Year - 21/10/2023
  • Year PGS was founded: 1993
  • PGS position: European leader in new and reconditioned pallets
  • Number of PGS employees: 900
  • PGS annual production: 25 million new pallets
  • PGS annual pallet repairs: 20 million
  • PGS sales in 2022: 482 million euros
  • Number of PGS sites: 40
  • PGS is present in 9 countries.
Cooperage TFF Group strengthens its position in wood products with Biossent - 04/10/2023
  • World leader in maturing products for wines and spirits (25% market share)
  • Burgundy-basedTonnellerie François Frères (TFF ) has just acquired Maison Boinaud's 13-employee Biossent subsidiary, which specializes in wood products.
  • The company extracts active ingredients from oak and vine wood
  • Woodworking products are used to extract aromas and tannins from stave-wood oak off-cuts (barrel planks) used in cooperage, which can then be added to wines or spirits aged in stainless steel vats.
  • Following in the footsteps of Australian Quercus, American Stavin and French Arôbois and Pronektar, Biossent becomes the group's fifth subsidiary.
  • Biossent generates sales of 4.5 million euros, or 10% of Maison Boinaud's business
  • Active in forestry, TFF started out in wood products in the early 2000s.
  • Listed on Euronext, the group sells its products in 80 countries, employs 1,676 people worldwide and posts sales of 439.8 million euros.
  • Maison Boinaud, a family-run cognac producer for 24 generations in Angeac-Champagne, Charente
  • The family-run company owns 650 hectares of vineyards, is also involved in trading and has just successfully launched its whisky on the French market, the single malt Heriose
Wood: Rougier SA successfully completes its turnaround | Rougier SA relaunches its business - 11/08/2023
  • Rougier SA celebrates its centenary.
  • Five years ago, the company narrowly avoided receivership.
  • The company has been in suspension of payments since 2018.
  • In 2022, the company generated sales of 103 million euros, up 55%
  • The company's continuation plan runs until 2026.
  • The Rougier family is still at the helm, with a two-thirds stake in the holding company.
  • The group now has around ten employees in France and 1,300 in Africa.
  • The company operates 1.5 million hectares of forest concessions in Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
  • Rougier SA has sold factories to Chinese and Indian industrialists, and sells FSC-certified wood in Gabon and Controlled Wood in Congo.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Office National des Forêts
Alliance Forêts Bois
Smurfit Kappa Comptoir du Pin
Comptoir des bois de Brive
ISB grpupe
Swiss Krono
Unilin (Mohawk industries)
Palette Gestion Services (PGS Groupe)
TFF Group
Saint-Gobain Groupe

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