Lumber Prices Surge as Sawmills Run Short
November 7, 2013 | 4:55 pm CST
Hardwood Checkoff Proposal Moves Forward, with Controversy

Lumber Prices Surge as Sawmills Run ShortWorldwide demand for North American hardwoods climbed faster than supply in October.

Many concentration yards were low on both kiln-dried lumber to sell and green lumber to put in dry kilns. The sales manager for one exporting company said, “It is very hard to secure enough of anything!”

Prices have surged on Red Oak, White Oak and other key export items. International buyers are making more trips to North America—particularly Chinese buyers—to try and secure additional supplies before prices escalate further, but found many exporters unwilling to lock in prices on orders for delivery in future months.

Lumber Prices Surge as Sawmills Run ShortU.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 122 million board feet (MMBF) in August 2013, up 8% from July 2013 and 6% from August 2012. August was the seventh month this year in which exports set a record for that particular month.

Year-to-date exports through August totaled 953 MMBF, up 7% from the same period in 2012. Exports to the four largest markets were higher this August than last, including increases of 40% to Vietnam and 20% to Mexico.

While we do not yet have official trade data beyond August, every indication is that shipments to Asia and Mexico climbed even higher in September and October, with small gains in shipments to Europe.

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