North America Forest Fibre Flow Update: 3Q 2019
Overview November 8th, 2019
“It will become clear after Labour Day if North America construction framing dimension softwood lumber prices are going to soften further, as they usually do in autumn, or if buyers and sellers have indeed found a new floor. — Madison’s Forest Pulse July 13, 2019
This was the last line of our update in the previous issue of your Madison’s Forest Pulse.
Thankfully, the horrible price drops for North America softwood lumber not only stopped but reversed upward following the Labour Day long weekend. The scope of the reversal was significant, as prices rebounded back up by a healthy degree.
An important indication of much improved supply-demand balance was the spectacular rise of panel (OSB and plywood) prices at the end of October.
VETERAN solid wood processors and sellers in Canada and the US alike to say, “Labour Day is the beginning of the end [for US home building thus annual lumber demand], and US Thanksgiving is the end of the end” for large-volume lumber sales.
The business of manufacturing and distributing North American construction framing dimension softwood lumber is directly tied to US home building and remodelling activity. As darkness and bad weather loom across the continent, construction jobsites start to close down.
Well aware of this annual cycle, sawmills tend to load up their yards with logs in anticipation of renewed processing come January or February, and to empty their lumber yards of manufactured wood inventories.
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Madison’s Lumber Reporter reminds there is a tricky balance for forest operators, between investment in log supplies and the year-end slowdown of lumber manufacturing. Companies want to have enough wood on hand to serve demand through December, but not so much that they have to carry-over inventory into the following year.
As well, producers don’t want to get caught short of lumber supply either, should there be a run on sales before December ends.