Although recent weeks have shown some normal summer slowing, steady domestic and robust export markets are leading to potential hardwood lumber shortages this fall and winter.
While economic problems and the election get all the headlines and most of the discussion, exports of hardwood lumber quietly continue to set records. Coupled with strong demand for industrial timbers of all types, more and more folks in the industry are growing convinced that supply could become a problem.
Before you call to remind us that the North American hardwood industry has always out-produced any market, consider that tropical timber markets also went for years without a supply problem. Today’s purchase orders for African sapele are for shipment in four to six months, and those shipping dates will not likely be met. Shipments of South American woods are similarly slow. The main reasons are economic—banks reducing credit, sawmills closing, and less timber being offered for sale—not unlike what we’ve seen in the U.S.
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