Just released trade statistics for May 2012 included welcome news. U.S. hardwood lumber exports in May totaled 121.4 million board feet (MMBF), the highest level in 72 months and the fifth highest monthly total ever.
For the first five months of 2012, hardwood lumber exports totaled 570.3 MMBF. May shipments to China totaled 46.5 MMBF—the highest ever.
June statistics may look even stronger. In a recent survey, we found that nearly 60 percent of North American exporters reported higher shipments in June than in May, with increased activity in Asia, Mexico and the Middle East offsetting reduced business in Europe.
Interestingly, 79 percent said exports now comprise the highest percentage of sales in company history, and 76 percent believe North American hardwoods are gaining a larger share of world markets.
“We’re now about 40 percent export and we expect our exports will continue to grow,” says a Wisconsin sawmill operator.
While many log and lumber mills are not directly involved in export markets, even domestic-only sellers benefit from strong export sales. The comment from a Wisconsin sawmill — which many might think would be too far from ports to competitively participate in exporting — illustrates the widespread importance of hardwood exports.
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