Benchmark Softwood Lumber Prices Flat as Demand Flows to Alternate Commodities

Prices of benchmark softwood lumber items, like standard grade #2&Btr R/L stayed mostly flat for the week of March 5 — particularly on the west side — as customer demand flowed into other items.

Madison's Softwood Lumber Benchark green and KD Construction Framing Dimension Softwood Lumber and Panel Prices MAR 2021

FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 5 there was quite a pop in #3/Utility grade and #4/Economy prices across all species and sizes, as well as a rise in Western and Eastern Spruce-Pine-Fir straight-lengths — especially for the 2×6 dimension.
Delayed delivery times continued to put a real crimp in supply; at this point operators don’t even know when, or if, their rail cars are going to arrive.
While the urgency of booking orders seemed to have eased, many speculate that this was just a temporary easing. Expectations are that the “big buy” for lumber in advance of spring is not yet over.

As spring building season neared demand and prices showed no signs of softening.”

— Madison’s Lumber Reporter

Those seeking a forward indicator need to look no further than plywood: prices of benchmark plywood item Canadian Softwood Plywood Toronto 9.5 mm soared +C$145, or +11%, to C$1,303 msf from C$1,160 the previous week.
This item was +C$316, or +32%, higher than one month ago when it was C$989 msf.

Madison’s Benchmark Top-Six Softwood Lumber and Panel Prices: Monthly Averages

Madison's Softwood Lumber Benchark green and KD Construction Framing Dimension Softwood Lumber Prices MAR 2021

Demand in Eastern Canada was strong again according to Eastern S-P-F dealers. Buyers tried to push back against advancing prices but there were too many folks who needed product with a desperation. Sawmills boosted their asking prices into both the Great Lakes and Toronto markets as their order files stretched into the first half of April. Builders voiced their mounting concerns about supply shortages and delays of virtually every manufactured product under the sun. ”

— Madison’s Lumber Reporter

For the week ending March 5, US Western S-P-F sawmills maintained two- to four-week order files on the back of steady. Availability of transportation equipment was a constant bottleneck for suppliers, with complaints coming from all over about delayed rail cars and limited trucks and drivers.

The upward trend was on display again for Canadian Western S-P-F commodities, especially in 2×6 and wider. Prices of low grade also climbed again, though producers noted a seeming plateau in demand for those items. Producers sold into the week of March 29th, but transportation issues pushed delivery at least two weeks further out. Log supply was in comparatively good shape after frigid weather froze much of the interior region of BC. Producers were in the process of getting their decks ready for spring breakup.

In an apparent plateau after reaching dizzying heights, in the week ending March 5, 2021, the price of benchmark softwood lumber commodity item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr was flat at US$1,040 mfbm, said Madison’s Lumber Reporter.
That week’s price is +$42, or +4%, more than one month ago when it was $998.

Western Spruce-Pine-FIr KD 2x4 #2&Btr prices MAR 2021

Compared to the price one-year-ago, of US$446 mfbm, for the week of March 5 benchmark softwood lumber item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr was selling for US$1,040 mfbm which is +594, or +133% more.