Imported hardwoods however are facing buoyant sales
The final quarter of the year is usually the busiest time for the building sector but pine mills have shown lackluster sales. If current market conditions continue into the New Year, competition for sales will be rife.
Many pine mills are still feeling the strain of the last round of log price increases set by the South African Forestry Company (SAFCOL). Coupled with labour unrest in some mills, owners are considering ceasing operations until the market picks up.
The wood-based panel market is also facing the same constraints but have the benefit of attracting buyers who have now opted for panel boards over solid wood, which are cheaper.
On the other hand, hardwood demand is buoyant. American hardwoods are still in high demand, driven by steady interest in white oak, ash and walnut.
High-end furniture manufacturers seem to have enough work for the time being.
Traders have also reported improved activity in meranti over the past few weeks but this also comes at a time when consumption has fallen very low such that recovery is considered modest. Iroko has also become more popular as buyers look to cut costs. The demand for Saligna (Eucalyptus) is also looking up especially as an alternative to native hardwoods.