Lake States Business Trends – February 2023

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Lumbermen in the Lake States called their markets, in a word, “OK.” One lumber provider went so far as to say his business is “positive right now,” as of the time of this writing.

In Michigan, a sawmill representative described his market as “pretty mediocre. Some aspects of the market are still OK. Some products have slowed down in sales. Prices have fallen down. But we’re moving lumber OK.”

Compared to several months ago, his market is “not as good,” he observed. “The slowdown started a few months ago,” he added.

He handles Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak, Hickory, Cherry, Walnut and Poplar in 5/4 to 8/4, No. 3 Common and Better.

His customers are split evenly between end users and distribution yards. “You hear mixed reviews about their sales to their customers. In general, our customers have slowed down. Pockets of our business segments are still busy, with the right products in the right markets. Inventories of lumber are high,” he noted.

“Transportation is fine,” he stated. “Logging conditions are fine. Log prices are suppressed but that’s OK; price reductions are not too drastic in negative territory.”

An Indiana lumber provider said his market is “doing pretty well. Domestic and export seem to be moving. I’m going to say it’s positive right now.”

Compared to six months previously, the health of the market is “about the same, slightly better,” he commented.

He sells Hardwood in No. 2 Common and Better in 4/4 through 16/4. Species included are Walnut, Red and White Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Cherry, Hickory, Basswood and Ash.

His customers are “a pretty good split between end users and distribution yards.” How these customers are faring in the marketplace is “mixed,” he remarked. “Some are shutting down for a while, and others are as busy as ever. It depends on the markets and the areas that we’re shipping to.”

As for problems affecting his business, including transportation, he is not aware of any.

A Wisconsin sawmill representative stated that his business is “OK, semi-decent. Lumber is moving but the prices are not that good.”

Compared to a few months ago, “demand is a little better, but overall, the market is about the same.”

He offers Red and White Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Basswood, Ash, Cherry, Hickory and Aspen in No. 3 Common and Better, mostly in 4/4 and some 5/4. Aspen is his best seller, he stated. 

He sells his lumber to both distribution yards and end users. “Their sales have been slow to their customers,” he noted. “They’re getting orders but it’s not crazy-good.

“Transportation has been good for us,” he added. “There are local truckers we work well with. Also, export containers are more available than they were.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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