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 larousse.fr 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 ...
2.1 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
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 ...
3.1 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 ...
4.1 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:
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 ...
5.1 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 ec.europa.eu, "it is a four-digit nomenclature ...
5.2 National policy framework
According to the unece.org, "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. ...
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