During the past four months, low mill production has pushed green Ash prices up much faster than kiln-dried. In the Appalachian region, for example, the Weekly Hardwood Review green 4/4 FAS price climbed $65 compared to $35 for KD.
Looking ahead, concentration yards may have difficulty passing along these higher costs to their customers, as domestic markets aren’t strong enough to support increases and price fatigue appears to be spreading among overseas buyers.
Ash exports to the Middle East and North Africa fell 41% last year, as rising upper-grade prices drove buyers to Red Oak.
Northern European buyers won’t be as quick to pull back because most don’t consider Red Oak an acceptable alternative, but neither will they readily accept further price increases. Regardless, lower demand in Italy should free up additional volumes for Northern Europe and stabilize prices in the near-term.
Ash production will likely pick up as lowland areas dry out in the second quarter, yet combined European and Far Eastern demand should keep prices at or near current levels into the third quarter.
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