U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 117 million board feet in December, which was 16% below the prior month but 21% above the previous December record set in 2013. Total 2014 exports were up 13% in volume from 2013 levels (to 1.65 billion board feet) and 26% in value (to $2.33 billion), both of which shattered previous records. The combined value of hardwood lumber and log exports surpassed $3 billion for the first time.
Lumber shipments increased to 17 of the Top 20 markets in 2014, including record volumes to China, Vietnam, Mexico, Estonia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Australia. Among the 12 most exported species, only Hard Maple shipped in smaller volumes last year than in 2013. Poplar, Ash, Walnut and Hickory exports all set annual records.
January was a relatively slow month for North American hardwood exports, and reports indicate February was even slower. Lunar New Year celebrations brought Chinese purchasing to a standstill during the second half of the month, and Vietnamese and Malaysian markets also slowed. European demand remained depressed despite the euro’s leveling against the U.S. dollar. Reports about Middle Eastern markets were mixed. Shipments to Mexico were fairly good.
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