Sawmills in the US increased softwood lumber production during January-April 2018

Sawmills in the US increased softwood lumber production during January-April 2018

Softwood lumber production by U.S. sawmills in the first four months of 2018 was 11.579 billion board ft. (bbf), a year-over-year increase of 5.5% from 10.980 bbf in the same period last year.

Western U.S. sawmills contributed 4.899 bbf to the four-month total, up 10.0% from 4.455 bbf a year earlier, while production at southern U.S. sawmills gained 2.1% to reach 6.134 bbf, up from 6.005 bbf last year, reported the Western Wood Products Assn. in its latest Lumber Track report.

In April, U.S. sawmills produced 3.014 bbf, up 11.9% from 2.695 bbf in April 2017, and 2.4% higher than output in March 2018 of 2.943 bbf.

Of April’s total, Western sawmills accounted for 1.236 bbf – up 14.5% from last year’s 1.079 bbf, but down 1.6% from 1.256 bbf in March 2018.

Sawmills in the South contributed 1.636 bbf, an increase of 9.9% from 1.488 bbf in April 2017, and up 5.7% from the previous month’s production of 1.548 bbf, WWPA reported.

Apparent U.S. softwood lumber consumption dropped 2.1% in the four-month period to 15.682 bbf, down from 16.017 bbf in the previous year. In April, consumption was 4.173 bbf – up 2.4% from 4.074 bbf last year, and 3.5% higher than consumption in March 2018 of 4.032 bbf.

Canadian softwood lumber production/consumption

Canadian sawmills produced 9.534 bbf of softwood lumber in the first four months, a 1.2% drop from 9.652 bbf a year earlier. The decline was driven by a 4.3% dip in British Columbia’s output to 4.260 bbf in the four-month period from 4.452 bbf. Production by sawmills East of the Rockies increased, by 1.4% to 5.274 bbf from 5.200 bbf a year earlier.

Production in April alone was 2.459 bbf, a year-over-year advance of 2.4% from 2.403 bbf, and up 0.5% from 2.448 bbf in March this year.

Sawmills in British Columbia contributed 1.123 bbf to Canada’s production in April, a year-over-year increase of 0.1% from 1.121 bbf, and up 4.6% from the previous month’s volume of 1.073 bbf. Sawmills east of the Rockies produced 1.337 bbf, a 4.3% year-over-year gain from 1.282 bbf, but down 2.8% from 1.375 bbf in the previous month.

Apparent Canadian softwood lumber consumption for the four-month period jumped by 19.1% to 3.559 bbf from 2.988 bbf last year. Consumption in April was 935 million board ft. (mmbf), up 25.6% from 744 mmbf last year, and up 16.2% from 805 mmbf in March 2018.

U.S. and Canada utilization/inventories

U.S. production as a percentage of practical capacity averaged 85% in the first four months, up from 84% in the same period last year. Canada’s percentage dropped to 90% in the year-to-date compared with 92% in the first four months of 2017.

U.S. inventories were up 2.1% in April to 2.978 compared with last year’s 2.915 bbf, while Canadian inventories surged 18.0% to 3.698 bbf from 3.132 bbf.



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