After the very active February, trade via the Electronic Timber Trading System (ETTS) under short-term transactions in March has remained equally active, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine announced in Lithuania in mid-March.
Quite the contrary, sales volumes have grown 5.5 times compared to March 2019, but this can be related to the increased supply of timber under short-term transactions. This is also demonstrated by the auction schedule, which is already full for the two forthcoming weeks.
A total of 71,192 solid m³ of timber was sold by the end of March. One hundred seventeen auctions were held in the course of the month, of which 89 auctions were announced as completed. One hundred five buyers took part in the auctions, and 92.5% of timber was purchased by Lithuanian companies. The total value of the sold timber amounted to EUR 2 million.
In March, trade during short-term auctions was very active, despite the quarantine announced in mid-March. A total of 71,042 solid m³ of timber was sold, which is a 52% increase compared to February. The sales were as much as 5.5 times higher compared to March 2019, but this should be considered together with the increased supply of timber, which grew by 70% compared to February 2020 and 4.5 times compared to March 2019.
Firewood was the most demanded assortment – 19,875 solid m³ of this was sold. Firewood was followed by wood panels (14,450 solid m³), pulpwood (13,235 solid m³), packing logs (11,870 solid m³), sawlogs (10,520 solid m³), timber harvesting residues (1,000 solid m³), and hard leafy short timber (92 solid m³).
Trade in TOP timber assortments in March accounted for 89% of the total sales of timber, i.e. 63,465 solid m³. The short-term transaction portfolio included 45% of wood panels and firewood (class II and III calorific value), 21% of pulpwood, 18% of packing logs, 9% of sawlogs and 2% of timber harvesting residues. The prices of all TOP assortments except packing logs have increased in March. The biggest price increase (15%) was recorded for pulpwood. The increase was 11.9% for firewood and wood panels, 7.15% for class D sawlogs and 4.9% for class B/C sawlogs, while the price of packing logs dropped by 9%.
In March, the fourth repeat 2020 first half-year auction was held, during which 150 solid m3 of firewood was sold. The weighted selling price of firewood was 15.93 EUR/solid m³.
As of today, trade via the ETTS does not show any signs of weakness, the operations of Lithuanian timber processing companies have not been suspended and the work continues, some market uncertainty can be felt, and producers are said to be fairly moderate about the quantities of warehoused timber due to a possible decrease in production volumes.
International analysts say that, similarly to other sectors, demand for the end product will continue to drop in the timber sector as long as the quarantine in different countries continues; consequently, a rapid decrease in production is expected in the next two months, but, in Q3 this year, when the pandemic is over, the situation is likely to return back to normal.