Quebec/Ontario Business Trends

Jan/Feb Issue

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While still below the 52-week average, eastern SPF prices are increasing. According to the most current prices from the Canadian Forest Service, the 4-week average is $834 Canadian, while the price for the current week is at $955, up noticeably from the previous week.

“The SPF market has been very good,” reported an Ontario manufacturer. “Eastern Canada has benefitted from some of the challenges that BC has had this year. We feel for them for having floods, forest fires, some harvesting restrictions.” 

A Quebec wholesaler noted that “the market has been well balanced. Supply and demand is tight. It is hard for mills to crank up production and the demand has been steady. It is good to see that across the board, all products are selling well, industrial to MSR. The perspectives for the next six months are pretty good. Repair and remodelling seem to be steady.” 

An Ontario manufacturer said that “in 2020 we went to those elevated price levels because there was a crisis. The worry is that we are at the same place we were at last December. The buying for inventory never happened; people never really had a chance to buy for inventory and we are heading into the winter months.” 

Reported a Quebec producer: “I hope we are going to have to find a way to have the market be more balanced and it should, because there were so many other products that were unavailable last year. Lumber at that time was perhaps the most available.” 

Another Quebec manufacturer wondered if perhaps “we have to accept the new pricing, as consumers, as buyers, we’ve got to be more comfortable with the level of prices we are at right now. I know compared to history it is super high. It is almost twice the price it used to be if we could get used to it. That is a good way to avoid the crunch price levels.”

Noted an Ontario producer, “Last year people said I am not buying because you are too high and delivery was four weeks out. Then, four weeks later, because they were not buying, they got to a level of desperation and that created chaos and super high prices.” 

An Ontario wholesaler remarked, “The mills are strong until January; low grade has been very strong because the pallet companies are busy, because everyone has got the push on. The U.S. business is a bit slower because of the duty rates, which have just gone up. I can’t forsee it staying this strong. With COVID, things got crazy last year, but I just don’t see that happening again a second time, at least to the same degree.” 

In White Pine, an Ontario-based producer reported that “the market overall is pretty steady and prices are unchanged. Things are not likely going to change in the short term. Looking at what is selling, everything is pretty consistent, at least for the time being.”

An Ontario wholesaler echoed those comments, saying that “we are selling product well across the board and I think that is not going to change, prices will still be firm. We will see what next spring brings, but I certainly don’t see the Pine market changing much before then.” 

Said a Quebec manufacturer, “Prices are still firm, as there has been no added production so that is one good thing. The U.S. is still clicking along so we don’t have any interference from there.” 

Noted a wholesaler from Quebec, “We are in the Christmas slowdown, but by the end of January, the market is going to pick up and get back in gear again. The dead of the winter is our slowest time, but things are not too bad. The increased duty affects Pine as well as SPF, so that will have an impact on those companies who do business in the states”.

“Pine logs are not an issue,” according to an Ontario manufacturer. “We have at least enough to supply ourselves. We will wait and see what the winter weather brings us, but to mid-December it has generally been quite mild. If we get a bunch of snow and no frost, it will be difficult to log.”

Reported an Ontario wholesaler, “Transportation has been a bit challenging. We are still able to get trucks, but they are not as readily available as they were. The transporters are having some trouble, like our industry, finding enough workers (drivers).”

Cedar, according to an Ontario wholesaler, “is extremely tight. Unless you have relationships you will not get good Cedar and if you haven’t been doing it for a long time and have formulated some good alliances, you are not in the Cedar game.” 

Noted a Quebec wholesaler, “Prices were off but now they are firm and some mills are trying to push the price up quite a bit. We see another repeat of last year, with high prices and tight demand and log supply is going be tight as well.” 

By Richard Lipman

Richard Lipman Guest Writer Miller Wood Trade Publications

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