Hardwood Production: Slow Response to Higher Demand

By Andy Johnson | Posted: 04/17/2013 3:08PM


Rising demand from both domestic and international markets tightened supplies, pushed up prices, and kept hardwood markets stronger than many expected in the first quarter of 2013. Importantly, the U.S. hardwood lumber industry is much smaller than it was in the mid-2000s, and credit, personnel and logging infrastructure constraints continue to hamper a production response to higher demand.  Hardwood ReviewHardwood Publishing offers Hardwood Review, Hardwood Leader, WoodLogics and other services  for lumber buyers and sellers in the wood manufacturing industries

Moreover, sawmill management has shifted more towards maximizing value than grade (i.e. producing for the highest return not the highest grade). For the last several years, industrial timbers, railroad ties and crane mat timbers often brought higher returns, dropping the availability of #2&3A Common and even #1 Common lumber for flooring plants and export markets. Rapidly rising common-grade lumber prices may soon turn that around, however, and contribute to shortages in industrial items.

U.S. hardwood lumber exports during the first two months of 2013 were 11% higher than during those same months in 2012. Red Oak lumber exports were up 26%, with Chinese purchases of Red Oak up 67%. Exports will continue to increase in the months ahead. While U.S. flooring producers reported very strong business, imports of solid and engineered flooring rose 26% in Jan/Feb 2013 from the 2012 pace. Combined Chinese shipments of solid and engineered flooring were also up 26%, confirming the strength of the U.S. residential remodeling market.

  click image to zoomHardwood Review Andy Johnson


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