All focus is now on December and what appears to be a falling market.
I read Colin Clarke’s report, and I agree that prices look like they will continue to fall.
The way we trade at the moment means that I tend to get a price for the month from European mills. This means I am now looking ahead for December.
What I do know is that European mills on the whole have filled their boots and are full. It seems many bought early to ensure they had enough stock to cover the Christmas period.
With Christmas falling on a Saturday this year, and many European mills closed over that period, there are effectively only 13 collection days available in December.
That isn’t the case with all, as at least one mill is still desperate for material and others are still building up stocks. These seemed to have waited too long for prices to come down, but then got caught short when they did.
There are also some interesting factors going on. For example, some European countries are going into lockdowns. With the Netherlands though, it only seems to be a partial lockdown with a curfew on visiting bars and restaurants after 8pm, and I can’t see that affecting demand from there.
Of course, there is the temporary ban on exports from the EU to India, but I’m also not sure that will have a big impact either.
The haulage situation seems to have improved, although is not perfect. With our supply agreements, hauliers seem to honour those, while arranging transport for spot trades appears easier now too.
That doesn’t mean all is perfect, and it is generally accepted in the market that if you have managed to get a truck to a site, you have done well.
Sending material into Europe is a mixed picture. Some destinations are more problematic than others, and those that are most difficult tended to be like that prior to Brexit anyway. But those mills that were easiest to send material to, are those that are still most simple now.
Looking ahead, it wouldn’t surprise me if January is a bit bumpy and prices come off a little more then. But overall for next year, I feel positive.
As things start to get more normal again, I think that will benefit our industry, especially as we head into spring and summer.
But as ever, with everything up in the air, you’ve got to make the most of it.
Chris Burton is commercial director at IWPP