International purchases of North American hardwood lumber accelerated in November, as tightening supplies and the strong probability of higher prices in the future had even the most cost-conscious buyers paying more to secure material. Customers with highly specific length, width and color specifications often had difficulty finding stock. Many exporters were not taking on new customers because they could not meet demand from existing customers. Buyers from around the world continue to visit North America in hopes of uncovering additional supplies.
September 2013 was the strongest September ever for U.S. hardwood lumber exports, with shipments totaling 127 million board feet, up 3% from August 2013 and 12% from September 2012. It marked the eighth time in nine months this year during which exports set a record for a particular month.
Year-to-date exports through September totaled 1.079 billion board feet, up 8% from the same period in 2012. Shipments to China, Vietnam and Mexico, respectively, were 28%, 27% and 53% higher this September than last, while shipments to Canada were 7% lower.
While U.S. hardwood lumber exports remained on a record pace and domestic demand continued to improve, production tapered off in late November for hunting seasons and Thanksgiving. With supplies tight, international buyers were often paying full asking prices with fewer counter offers.
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