Ontario Business Trends – August/September 2022

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The high cost of living continues to challenge everyone. With labor shortages being felt in many areas, transportation issues are also making it challenging to do business. Shipping products is difficult as there is a shortage of truckers, and for exports shipments are delayed. The cost of parts for manufacturing plants is also expensive, and their shortages and ongoing shipping delays are all having an impact on the hardwood industry.

Demand for Ash on the domestic front is holding up well, noted contacts, while business in international markets has varied with some declining, such as to China, Pakistan and Vietnam, while others increased, such as to Japan and the United Kingdom. Inventories were noted as thin for most grades and thicknesses of Ash, and prices were reported as up.

Aspen logs and production of green lumber are steady with demand readily absorbing developing production. Kiln-dried inventories are reported as marginally adequate to meet buyers’ requirements.

With Basswood production increased over the winter and early spring, this provided a needed boost to kiln-dried supplies. This availability eased price pressures for No. 2A and Better, resulting in a more stable price for this species. Green lumber output is reported as having edged down slightly as mills were more cautious with Whitewood log buying and production. End users are taking up developing output. Demand for Basswood is solid, noted contacts, especially for the upper grades, with prices firm.

Birch supplies tightened over early summer, as it has for other Whitewoods at this time of year with warmer weather conditions. Thus, supply was insufficient to meet buyer needs. Demand in Canada and the U.S. border states for this species for kiln-dried stocks is keeping inventories low.

Sawmills continue to process large volumes of Hard Maple, from logging to primary manufacturers, and are being processed quickly to avoid stain damage. Green lumber supplies are meeting buyers’ needs and prices have shifted from an upward trend to a stable or even lower one. Inventories have increased for some grades and thicknesses note contacts.

The same is said for Soft Maple, with sawmills processing this species as quickly as possible to prevent stain damage and also to supply solid demand. Interest is staying strong, and the increase in green Soft Maple output eased price pressures, commented contacts. Prices are reported as higher for kiln-dried stocks.

Red Oak supplies are ample for green lumber to wholesalers and secondary manufacturers. Prices have eased slightly for green stocks, while contacts report mixed kiln-dried markets, though demand is keeping unsold inventories at manageable levels. Some are experiencing overseas shipping issues with lack of containers and vessel books, thus sold stocks are sitting in warehouses.

There is a seasonal slowdown in sales of White Oak. Europe is heading into some time off for summer vacations. Demand on the domestic front is good for Common grades and prices are stable. Sawmills, manufacturers and wholesalers all report no difficulty obtaining orders for green lumber.

Demand for pallet lumber and containers is strong even though there are transportation issues. Pallet manufacturers remain busy and are using a steady volume of cants and lumber.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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