The March 11 natural disaster in Japan is estimated to have removed 60,000m3 of plywood capacity from the market, badly affecting the supply of plywood in major markets Tokyo and Osaka, reports Fordaq.

The earthquake and tsunami also affected power supplies and infrastructure, leaving unaffected lumber and plywood mills with plans to increase production to supply the rebuilding effort subject to electricity blackouts.

Fordaq, citing the Japan Lumber Report, noted that ports in Hachinohe, Sendai, Sohma, Onahama and Hitachinaka were closed and shipments being diverted to Tokyo and Kawasaki. Tokyo Lumber Terminal secured 49,000m2 of land to serve as an emergency storage area.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the plywood market was in a state of confusion but trade is now returning to normal, according to the Japan Lumber Report. A period of panic buying for delivery at the end of March ended, but it pushed up prices and this has left buyers cautious.

The Ofunato Plywood mill, which processed tropical hardwood logs from Southeast Asia, suffered devastating damage. Other tropical plywood manufacturers escaped with minimal damage and are now trying to boost production.

Data from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport shows around 4,702 buildings were totally destroyed and 2,496 units half destroyed. An additional 1,150 units are unsafe with a high risk of collapse.