In total volume, hardwood lumber imports to the U.S. in 2011 through September were almost identical to last year. However, there have been wild swings in the species mix.
Sapele, Keruing, Spanish Cedar, Ipé, Virola and European Birch imports were up 24 to 83% year-on-year through September, while imports of Genuine and African Mahogany were down 13%.
One importer recently described tropical hardwood sales as “unexciting but steady,” and comments from other sources have been of a similar nature. Lumber shipments from Africa to the U.S. have increased in the last month.
Inbound shipments of South American woods also picked up. However, higher replacement costs on South American Spanish Cedar have forced some importers to stop offering it, and others to bump up purchases of African Spanish Cedar. In general, U.S. prices for imported tropical species have been level for several months.
Tropical hardwood demand will dip between now and January due to seasonal slowdowns in commercial construction and remodeling, production is not so great globally as to force price declines. Further, if the euro re-strengthens to the US$1.43 level, where it spent much of the year, it will effectively increase sourcing costs for U.S. importers of African woods.
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