Lumber supply to US market holds through third quarter of 2022

Lumber imports to the US see a late surge when compared to previous year's performance

A decline in US exports and a sharp climb in offshore imports pushed lumber available to the US up slightly in the third quarter of 2022 from the similar period of 2021. Lumber available to the US market had trailed the year-ago pace through the first half of the year.

Through the third quarter, lumber available to the US market totaled 39.866 billion board feet, up 0.8% from the same period a year ago (chart). The 2022 total surpassed supplies in each of the past five years.

Steep import increases from other regions

Non-Canadian imports jumped 11.1% from the like period of 2021, more than offsetting the 4.7% decrease in Canadian imports. While Canada remained by far the largest supplier to the US at 9.854 bbf through the third quarter, steep increases of supplies from Germany, Sweden, Austria, and Romania were evident. However, those countries combined were still only roughly 10% of the Canadian volume. Imports from Brazil and Chile also increased from their year-ago pace.

US lumber production through the third quarter was up 2.0% from 2021, with more domestic production staying onshore. The slight overall increase in US lumber production was driven almost entirely by the continued upward momentum in Southern Pine.

Supplies in that region have outpaced the like period of 2021 each month since May en route to a 6.4% increase year over year through the third quarter. Southern Pine shipments totaled 16.910 billion board feet through September, according to the Southern Forest Products Association.

Meanwhile, lumber production in the West continued to lag the year-ago pace. The Western Wood Products Association reported that production in the West had fallen 4.3% compared to the like period of 2021. That lag intensified in September amid a labor strike at Weyerhaeuser facilities across Oregon and Washington. Production in the West fell 17.4% from August to September. Workers walked off in mid-September in what began a 46-day work stoppage. Production in the US West through September totaled 10.717 bbf.

US exports, which were running 6.0% above the year-ago pace through the first half, fell to a 5.9% deficit to 2021 at 835 million board feet. Mexico, which overtook Canada as the primary destination for US supplies earlier this year, increased that share in third quarter.

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