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North America: lumber production decreased by 5%

09.01.2020 − 

Following declines of 4% and 6% in the first and second quarters, in the third quarter North American lumber production declined by 5% vis à vis 2018 to a total of 34.662m m³. In this connection the current figures of the Western Wood Products Association (WWPA) record contrasting developments for Canada and the USA. Whilst, at a volume of 21.070m m³, production in the USA was 1% higher than in the third quarter of 2018, Canadian softwood lumber production, at 13.592m m³, reflected a decline of 14%. The third quarter was thus the weakest quarter in 2019 so far. Whilst the first three months were at the same level as the preceding year’s figure, in the second quarter Canadian lumber production was already as much as 10% lower than the comparative figure.

The production decline in Canada is mainly a result of production shortages and plant closures in the province of British Columbia. Including the permanent closure of the Kelowna sawmill by Tolko Industries, which was announced at the end of November, in 2019 a total of four plants with a collective capacity of 775m bdft/annum have already been shut down. The numerous cutbacks in production mean that lumber production in the province will be reduced further by several 100m bdft. WWPA figures for the British Columbia region, at -26% to 5.432m m³, consequently record a significant drop in production, whereas a relatively moderate decline of 3% to 8.160m m³ was recorded in the East of Rockies region.

Concerning US softwood lumber production, a 3% decline recorded in the previous quarter was followed by a slight increase in the current period under consideration. Increases in the US South and US Other regions, which recorded respective improvements of 2% and 5% to 11.623m m³ and 1.373m m³, contributed to this development.

Accumulated over the first nine months, the North American sawmill industry produced a total volume of 106.711m m³ softwood lumber, 5% less than in the comparative period of the preceding year.

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