To put our current hardwood markets conditions in perspective, its good to get a “30,000 foot” view of the general global trends we are experiencing with both our hardwood imports and exports. It’s easy to get caught up in the fervor of the month (even the fervor of the day!), but some basic background provided by Hardwood Review (Hardwood Review Global, April 2019) should provide us with some sense of stability, although it doesn’t always seem to be such.
Though December 2018’s US hardwood lumber shipment volumes were the lowest in 8 years, January 2019 totals have increased by 62%, with our exports totaling approximately 127 million board feet of lumber. Our five largest export markets (China, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom) all saw increases in shipments in January over December, but many other export markets saw decreases.
The sales of domestic US lumber were deemed “fair” in March, as improved weather conditions led to better log availability. This increased lumber production and kept “inventories manageable.” Green lumber price trends are still showing better movement than kiln-dried lumber, and yard concentrations generally increased in March.
As far as our Asian markets go, though the Chinese demand declined by about 16% overall in 2018, Vietnamese markets grew by about 12%. In January, Vietnam accounted for over 25% “of all U.S. hardwood lumber shipments to the (Asian) region.” Japanese exports were up as well, as were sales to Korea and Taiwan.
European markets imported about 6% less in January, with lower demands coming from Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal. Exports to the UK, however, increased, and in 2018 the UK imported twice as much hardwood as Italy (which was the next leading European market).
Latin American hardwood lumber imports fell about 10% overall in 2018, but of interest is that Mexico increased its demand for black cherry by a factor of ten (10) since November of 2018. The thought there is that it accommodated (for a favorable price) the cherry that would have otherwise gone to China.
Saudi Arabia shipments fell a bit in January, but its lower demand level was still twice as much as the demand in 2017. The UAE imported less red oak and walnut, and Pakistan was consistent with its demand for ash after declining in the Fall of 2018.
As always, if you have timber you may be interested in selling, and want a long-standing professional forestry firm representing your best interests in the process, please don’t hesitate to call any of our FORECON offices. Our foresters would be very happy to speak with you about the markets, and more importantly, your goals and objectives for your land.