The substitution of okoumé plywood with cheaper poplar plywood has led to a sharp drop in European demand over the past three years, according to a report by Euwid.

Okoumé plywood is being replaced, particularly in construction applications, either with poplar plywood or combination plywood made from okoumé or ceiba and poplar.

Okoumé is still being used in specialty applications such as boat and yacht construction, but volumes have not recovered from significant declines during the recession. An example is the Dutch market, which has contracted by 30-40% in the last three years.

Suppliers do not expect to regain the market share now served by poplar, and many are scaling back production. In addition, the recent move to stop log exports from Gabon has made it more difficult and expensive to procure veneers.