Southeast – Business Trends October-November 2022 

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In the Southeast, sales of hardwood lumber are good at the time of this writing, but there is a hint of negative factors in the marketplace.
An Alabama sawmill representative stated, “Marketwise, sales are sporadic. You have some folks who have overbought with higher priced lumber and are waiting to move it out, so they’re curtailing their purchasing. For other folks, everything’s fine for them and we sell to them. Right now, it’s not correct to say it’s absolutely tough. It’s not as tough as it has been in past years. But we’re way past the peak of this enormous runup of a year ago which was an anomaly in and of itself. But we don’t know when this industry’s going to get back to a norm. Overall, I’d have to call it fair. It’s not exactly good; it’s not excellent. I have folks in the yard in the second generation, talking about how bad it is. I tell them, ‘You got in at the peak.’ We’re not even halfway down to where bad really is.”
He sells Red and White Oak, Poplar, mixed wood, and Hickory in all grades, mostly 4/4, some 5/4 or 6/4. His best seller, he noted, is 4/4 FAS and Better White Oak.
He sells green lumber to concentration yards and end users. “Their sales success is not the same for each one. I’ve got one that has said, ‘I don’t want to see another stick of lumber for six months.’ I’ve got one who says, ‘I need all you can send me, but I can’t pay as much as I did before.’ Each one of them has a different situation.
“We’re OK right now with transportation,” he said. “We send everything on flatbeds, and if our regular drivers don’t show up, I’ve got two backups. We ship within 250 or 300 miles. I can snag trucks if I need to here.”
“Our business is pretty good. We’ve had some good sales,” stated a Mississippi lumber provider. “However, our customers have stopped producing products and using lumber like they were. The market isn’t as good as it was. I’m guessing people are not buying lumber to manufacture their products like they were because they aren’t able to sell their products as well.”
He sells all grades of all species indigenous to the Southeastern U.S. and some native to the Northeast. Thicknesses are mostly 4/4 and 5/4.
He sells his lumber to end use manufacturers. “Because they’re not buying lumber like they were even though lumber is available, it tells me they’re not selling products like they were.
“Transportation is not that bad,” he remarked. “Rates are higher than a year ago, but that does not cost us sales. We have long-standing relationships with trucking companies, and we get a lot of calls from trucking companies wanting to haul our lumber.”
A North Carolina lumber provider commented, “We’re doing OK. However, I see rough waters rapidly approaching. Some aspects of the market are doing well. But other aspects, typically on exports to Asia and Europe, are going through a pretty major price correction. Prices are going down pretty much across the board. I don’t think there’s any grade or species that is unscathed at the moment. The market is on the decline at this time.”
In fact, he said, the market is not as good as it was a few months earlier.
He offers Red and White Oak and Poplar in 4/4 through 8/4, in all grades including FAS and No. 1, 2 and 3 Common.
He sells mostly to end use manufacturers and to some distribution yards. “They are OK today in their sales, but their order files are getting shorter.
“The cost of transportation is difficult and has an effect on our business,” he observed. “However, transportation is more available.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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