Truckers are now paying as much as $200 more to fill up their fuel tanks than a year ago. Not surprisingly, higher fuel and freight costs have become a frequent topic of conversation in the hardwood industry.
In Canada, where currency exchange rates have been causing headaches for hardwood companies, one seller commented, “I suspect that freight costs will soon overshadow the exchange rate issue.” An export wholesaler said, “The first thought when I consider where to [source] lumber is ‘how much is it going to cost to get it to the port.’” A contact in the Upper Midwest said that higher freight costs are “tempering the prices we can command,” and several sellers noted difficulty finding containers at reasonable prices for shipments to the West Coast. International freight forwarders indicate that ocean container rates have been holding steady over the past couple of months.
In much of the Appalachian and most of the Northern regions, hardwood lumber production continues to be hampered by difficult logging conditions resulting from unusually mild winter weather. While the list of items that are truly scarce remains relatively short—including upper-grade poplar, soft maple and ash—supplies of almost all KD items are in steady decline. Notably, many sawmills have adequate standing timber inventories that they simply can’t log right now, but will be able to access when the weather breaks.
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