The pace of business is gradually returning following the holiday period with most species, grades and thicknesses being available, commented contacts in Quebec and along the U.S. border states.
Ash logs are harder to come by due to the Emerald Ash Borer having decimated many stands. However, end users and wholesalers say they can still manage to find green Ash to meet production and supply demand. Prices are mostly steady, and demand was reported as fair from China, but sluggish from other countries.
Most Basswood end users are maintaining their purchase and usage of this species, even though export markets have declined. They have ample inventories of finished goods and lumber, with some reporting slower sales.
Reports regarding the regionally important Hard Maple of kiln-dried stocks are not positive. However, some contacts report orders for 4/4 Number 1 Common improved in late December 2022, but supplies in warehouses are still high for this species. Prices continue to go down. Green prices seemed to be stable as we ended 2022.
Soft Maple demand is also decreasing. Many end users are still using this species as their preferred stock, particularly the cabinet manufacturers. They have ample supplies but are uncertain about sales of their finished goods. This is another species that is in great use by many end users, and so sawmills are still producing it. As for many other species, prices are slightly down for Soft Maple as well.
Demand for Cherry in early 2022 was solid from China, with domestic business having been slightly better than in the previous few years. Sawmills and wholesalers increased their production and inventories of this species, especially those who had established business in China. By mid-year demand slowed on all markets, and inventories were plenty. Contacts noted supply and demand has come more into balance, and prices are thus a bit more stable.
Business for Hickory is fair, noted contacts, although not as strong as in the last few months of 2022. Supplies are increasing for kiln-dried 4/4 Hickory. Sales of certain thicker stocks are noted to be selling better than other grades. Green Hickory supplies are noted to be meeting, and in some instances exceeding buyers’ needs.
Hardwood Oak flooring manufacturers are seeing challenging times as record high prices of Oak lumber followed an abrupt decline in flooring sales and selling prices in 2022 which caused losses to be felt for many businesses. The same is said for sawmills producing Red and White Oak, which make for thin profit margins. Sawmill representatives said green Red Oak lumber is moving somewhat better than in the past few months. Demand from railroad tie manufacturers has brought the supply and demand more in balance.
As we approached the Chinese New Year and the deadline for shipping, businesses were busy as kiln-dried Red Oak shipments to this market helped reduce inventories and stabilize prices for certain grades and thicknesses.
White Oak usually fares well on export markets, however, demand has not been great for this species recently. Business was uncertain moving ahead into this year, as prices are volatile for this species.
Poplar demand seems to be holding up well compared to most other species both in Canada and the U.S. Contacts noted steady sales to end users and wholesalers. Supply is readily available to meet demand, and prices are low.
Walnut sales are a mixed bag according to contacts, with demand for kiln-dried Walnut being more popular on the domestic and U.S. markets than other international markets. Sales are based on selected widths and color sorts. Kiln-dried inventories are ample but not overly so as was the case last year.n