Sawmills are delaying hard maple cuts in favor of red oak due to the cold weather across the northern U.S. and Canada, which is prompting a faster price escalation for red oak.
Moreover, prohibitively expensive hard maple timber prices are also impacting lumber production, particularly in the Upper Midwest. Meanwhile, hard maple demand is gradually increasing from cabinet, wood component and residential flooring plants. Mills will easily move all the common-grade hard maple they can produce and prices will continue to firm throughout the winter. While upper-grade hard maple won’t be quite as hot as the commons, prices will also show upward movement.
Soft maple prices have been relatively flat for six months, and hard maple - soft maple price gaps have widened. As such, soft maple is an increasingly attractive alternative for end-users who can switch between the two. Soft maple shipments to cabinet plants will gradually increase in parallel with cabinet sales, and demand from residential furniture factories will tick up as that sector starts to rebound. Moreover, soft maple will continue to gain favor globally. Soft maple exports were up 13% through Nov 2013, including gains of 18% and 22% to China and Mexico.
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