Northeast Business Trends – June 2024

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In the Northeast market, forest products industry contacts we spoke with all agreed that their business was steady but were split on whether they expect the market to improve or suffer over the next six months. Optimism about the health of the market can be credited to a steady growth in demand, while each industry professional we spoke with expressed concern about the availability of logs and certain lumber.

White Oak, Walnut and Poplar are selling well, with other Hardwoods, such as Red Oak, experiencing a dip in popularity. Because of this demand, regional lumber yards reported a strong supply of Red Oak while anticipating a shortage of Walnut and green lumber over the next six months.

 “I think it’s better as far as customers wanting to buy lumber,” said a spokesperson from a Pennsylvania yard, “but worse as far as logs and supply.” He added that transportation is not affecting his business currently and, despite its effect on other industries in the region, the Baltimore Key bridge collapse has not created any issues because most of his containers come through ports in New York City, NY.

Dealing largely in No.1 Common and Better and No.2 Common Walnut, he lauded the rate at which No.2 Common is selling but worried “that mills are running out of logs” and said that this makes it difficult to forecast where the market will be six months from now.

In Massachusetts, a lumber yard representative voiced similar optimism about his business and credits the loyalty of his customers. He, however, honored concerns that certain customers — end users; mainly contractors — conveyed about the lack of business they expect to have leading into the summer.

Operating mainly in industrial lumber and pallets, his main customer is end use manufacturers, but said that he also retails to hobbyists and contractors. This range in customer type requires that he always have a variety of species on his yard: “All New England species: Oak, Ash, Cherry, Maple, whatever you want; if it’s New England, we’ve got it.” He added that kiln-dried is also available and is selling well among local hobbyists and contractors.

Despite the demand, he alluded to manpower being an issue. When asked if he could pinpoint anything specific that may affect the business in his state over the next six months, he simply said, “Absolutely, the answer to that question is labor.”

Our New York contact told us that things in his state are “fairly good”. Echoing other industry professionals in his region, he insisted that, yes, the industry is in a better place than it was six months ago and that he anticipates that it will remain steady over the coming months.

Working with distribution yards, end users and exporters, and selling Red Oak and White Oak in sizes 4/4 through 8/4 in all grades, he said that White Oak is outselling Red Oak, reenforcing what we heard from other states.

Industry contacts expressed appreciation for the availability of trucks in their region and do not anticipate any issues receiving shipments and/or containers in the coming months.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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