Cabinetmaker Demand for Hard Maple Is Expected to Rise
August 27, 2015 | 3:48 pm CDT

Red oak has been oversupplied and falling in price for months. In June, however, Red oak exports reached a 23-month high to Mexico, an all-time high to Vietnam, and were 11% higher to China than in June 2014.

Moreover, several exporters in the South saw upturns in July/August red oak orders from Chinese customers at prices above prior offers from the same customers—though still below prevailing market prices. Are prices finally approaching the floor? We think so, though the bottom is still 30-60 days away for most items.

Inventories of winter-cut hard maple are finally dwindling, which is evident in smaller price declines of late. Purchasing by cabinet, component and flooring plants will pick up slightly as their inventories thin out over the next two months, though common-grade prices are susceptible to modest declines until excess stocks are completely gone.

FAS/1F prices may edge up, first in the North, assuming distribution sales remain decent. However, we don’t expect hard maple prices to spike for the foreseeable future—as they frequently have in the past—unless consumers abandon dark stains and paints for light finishes.

Year-to-date hard maple exports were down 22% through June. With soft maple capturing a larger share of the international maple market, there is little hope of near-term improvement in hard maple exports.

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Andy Johnson