Board composite prices have been in decline for 1 year

The Random Lengths Board Composite Price has trended lower for 52 consecutive weeks, which subverts expectations

2023 has been a disappointing year for most 1-inch board markets. So far, anticipation of a significant seasonal uptick in spring buying has failed to materialize.

While the Random Lengths Board Composite Price has trended lower for 52 consecutive weeks, weekly declines since the end of March have been minimal, averaging less than $2 per week. As of May 18, the composite price was $944, down from $1,284 a year ago but still well above the 10-year average ending at the close of 2022 of $755.

Board composite demand underwhelms at peak time of the year

On an annual basis, this is the time of year when demand is often at its highest, led by box-store sales. “We’re not seeing the pull through from home centers this year,” noted one home-center supplier.

Some frustration among suppliers stems from the prices those box stores are trying to achieve for boards. “We’re seeing a huge markup on prices,” said another supplier.

In Ponderosa Pine boards, blue stain has constricted the supplies of upper grades and added to low-grade output at mills. Buildups of narrow widths are currently problematic for some mills, partially due to a lack of home center sales. As in other markets, solid demand for pattern items has helped reduce supplies of #2&Btr and #3 1×6 and 1×8.

Traders anticipate blue stain production will dissipate in the third quarter, which could help ease low-grade supplies but likely contribute to more upper-grade output.

Many Southern Pine board prices have remained soft through the spring, largely due to a lack of demand. 16-footers have bucked the trend, as buyers have been willing to pay a significant premium for that length. At the same time, producers have been forced to drastically discount less-popular lengths to move volumes.

Eastern White Pine has been stronger than other species. Steady production and sales are contributing factors to moderate price gains in some grades. While upper grades have held or moved modestly higher, Industrial grade has lagged, although a firmer tone has led to more stable prices in that grade in recent weeks.

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