At Atlantic Port La Rochelle, the sector "Forest products" is made up of a "pulp" activity and another "timber" activity, in the form of logs or processed wood. The first French port for the import of forest products, La Rochelle port has seen in recent years the share of logs decrease in favour of paper pulp.
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Since the 80s, Atlantic Port La Rochelle plays a major role in the import of pulp required for the French production of processed products for consumption, thus reducing the volumes of finished product imports in France. To date, out of a market need of more than 2 million tonnes of pulp for production in France, about 30% of these imports pass through La Rochelle. The Port has provided support for these products during many decades, particularly by the construction of storage buildings, which is a key element for the sustainability of this sector.
The pulp market has experienced a major transformation over the last decade at the level of sources and at the level of pulp quality, especially due to the transfer of production from countries in the northern hemisphere to those in the southern hemisphere. In fact, the temperate countries (USA / Canada / Scandinavia) use long fibres from softwood with cutting cycles of 12-25 years, while emerging South American and Asian countries use short fibres , from the cutting of eucalyptus or acacia in tropical or subtropical areas requiring only a cycle of 7 to 8 years. Brazil has become the world leader in this cultivation by operating cycles over large areas. Chile is an exception, however, in this geographical area, since it has north and south (4000 km) parts of temperate and tropical zones.
The Port now receives large flows of South America to the detriment of North America, albeit with residual tonnages from the Scandinavian countries.
Wood in the form of logs or processed
In the first part of the twentieth century, a parasite affected regions in eastern France that contributed to the timber industry, mainly plywood. Due to a large availability of poplars in the Marais Poitevin, replacing the previously used species, the massive production of veneer is then positioned in Niort area. The discovery of tropical species in the 50s in Africa, Bombax in Ivory Coast and Okoume in Gabon, completed the products used for rotary cutting in the manufacture of plywood.
Since the last ten years, in order to bring added value to the country holding the resource, veneer manufacturers have invested in upstream peeling sites and complete the plywood production using poplar.
It is the same for species of raw tropical logs, whose imports have become residual in the last five years, in favour of finished or semi-finished products produced upstream.
Since the early 2000s, softwoods are present on the Port, due to the initiative of a distributor, with products processed in the country holding the resource (Scandinavia, Baltic and Russia). The Port of La Rochelle is thus fully equipped to serve the Forest products sector, by supplying both softwood and exotic woods to this market.