In France, the coopers are the largest customers for domestic oak. In 2011, for instance, the coopers used up about 265,000 cubic meters of oak wood, valued at 106 million euro, the average price being between 350 and 600 euro per cubic meter - depending on the quality of the wood. The ONF supplies about 70 percent of the amount of wood needed, the rest comes from private silvicultures.
“The international business rivalry is becoming harder and harder. This is true for barriques as well as alternative products like wood chips” Jean-Luc Sylvain, president of the French coopers’ association, explains. “If we don’t pay attention, we will be overrun by the prices, and thus, the market situation will become worse. So, we are concerned about the business rivalry and about the preservation of our profession.”
Wine producers all over the world still prefer barriques out of French oak; Mr. Sylvain is, however, concerned: “We are suffering because the ONF doesn’t take our problems for serious. We need a long-term vision for our business, but without clarity about supply quantities and qualities, our future is endangered.”
In France, there are 42 registered barrique producers, which together obtained an annual turnover of 300 million euro in 2011. The producers employ about 1,500 to 2,000 people and produce about 500,000 barriques, 300,000 of them made out of oak wood supplied by the ONF.
From now on, Jean-Luc Sylvain and Pascal Viné, president of the ONF, will meet every year in June, before the peak buying season for oak trees, as well as in October, at the auctions. “I will claim transparency and, above all, a flexible price policy from the ONF. Because it is not the ONF but the markets that dictate the prices. And we can only remain competitive on the international markets with attractive prices”; Mr. Sylvain says. (red.yoopress)