By Lydian Kennin
In the Northeast, the market for Softwood lumber is “strong” as described by many, though with complications with stock and demand seen throughout the region.
“Some items are really hard to get,” stated one lumber supplier in Massachusetts in regard to the high demand for Softwood in the region. Since six months ago, the market has become very busy, she said. Her company is one of the largest distributors of all western Softwood species as well as all North American Softwoods. The market has been volatile according to her, as transportation has been delaying sales. “Trucks are tight. There are more loads than trucks available,” she explained.
In Maine, another source commented that the market is “very strong,” with unprecedented demand both locally and regionally “to the point where we’ve never seen anything like it.” He said that the market appears stronger than it did six months ago, but strong demand creates a new problem. His company offers Eastern White Pine primarily, which has been selling “very well” but with a shortage in every grade, he explained. His company has its own distribution network that sells to retail lumberyards, brokers, and other distributors. He remarked that the lack of Western Red Cedar has driven more customers to Eastern White Pine. In regard to transportation, “there’ve been some minor hiccups,” but the issues have been relatively isolated and otherwise have created few issues.
In New Hampshire, the market is “extremely strong,” according to another lumber manufacturer who also owns numerous retail lumber yards. “It’s like we’re trying to stuff 10 gallons of water in a one-gallon container,” he said. As for trends, people are flocking from the major cities in what he describes as a “pandemic-driven” migration. “With Zoom meetings and telecommuting, sellers can be in a shack in northern New York on a lake and still get as much work done as they would’ve in Manhattan,” the source commented. As compared to six months ago, he describes the market as being unchanged. “It’s as strong as it was six months ago, and it’s continuing to be very strong and firm,” he stated. This supplier’s company offers Eastern Spruce, Western Spruce, OSB, plywood, Southern Yellow Pine, and Eastern White Pine, with customers including retail building material dealers, big box stores, industrial and packaging accounts, lawn and garden centers, and in some markets where appropriate, home builders. All Softwood lumber is selling well, with an increased demand in Eastern White Pine. “It’s not a very widely produced product, so it’s under tremendous pressure for supply,” he said. When asked about barriers due to transportation, the source laughed, transportation barriers still remain with fleets of trucks sitting idle for reasons greatly connected to the pandemic.