Winding up US hardwoods for 2021

Photo: Sarah Worth/Unsplash

By Judd Johnson, managing editor, Hardwood Market Report Publication

Hardwood Market Report (HMR) estimations of US hardwood lumber production indicate that supply is nearing projected total demand by the major market sectors. The recovery process in sawmill output took far longer than expected based on past performances. In comparison, it took about six months for US sawmill production to regain traction after bottoming out at the end of the Great Recession, which was, itself, a historic event that affected economies and commerce worldwide. But the Great Recession was not COVID-19 (Figure 1).

Not surprisingly, the near balance in total US hardwood lumber supply and demand does not apply to all market sectors, all species, or to all thickness, grade, or species combinations. In general, inventories have accumulated particular items popular in the China and Vietnam markets. The supply increases are more a function of business slowdowns in these markets affected by COVID-19. The closing of ocean ports and factories had greater impact of reducing demand than anything US sawmills did to increase production.

There is one other significant point to consider about US hardwood supply gains in H2 2021. The June through October period is when lumber drying conditions are seasonally optimal; this year, lumber drying productivity outpaced sawmill productivity.

Click here to read the full article in the November / December 2021 issue of Panels & Furniture Asia.