US market is feeling reduction of Brazilian plywood imports

US softwood plywood imports from Brazil fell to a two-year low in 2022 and the rate of decline accelerated in January

Recently, Brazil has far and away been the largest foreign supplier of softwood plywood to the US. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the market is feeling the impact from the reduction in shipments from Brazil.

Brazilian softwood plywood exports to the US reached more than 1 million cubic meters in 2021, the highest total since 2005 and the third-largest annual volume on record. Last year, shipments fell 12% from those historical highs to 905,781 cubic meters. Deliveries in January 2023 plunged 39% compared to the same month last year.

In May 2022, a US district court revoked certificates and grade stamps issued to plywood imported from Brazil for structural use in US markets. Ongoing issues with certification contributed heavily to the decline in imports from Brazil.

Softwood plywood from Brazil competes directly with Southern Pine plywood in structural applications in the US market. In recent weeks, a growing number of US buyers have expanded their search for alternative coverage in response to reduced offerings from Brazilian suppliers.

This trend is especially prevalent in the Northeast, a region that historically has used Brazilian plywood extensively. Tightening supplies of Brazilian panels have spread into surrounding regions as well.

Chile offsets the plywood export decline

A surge in US imports from Chile has offset the steep decline in Brazilian shipments. Chilean softwood plywood exports to the US reached 461,775 cubic meters last year, up 9% from 2021.

Last year’s imports from Chile set a record, narrowly surpassing the previous highs established in 2018 and 2020. The US Foreign Agricultural Service first recorded Chilean softwood plywood imports in 1994. Shipments in January 2023 more than doubled the first month of 2022.

However, the majority of Chilean plywood shipments to the US are sanded panels. Most are distributed through home centers. As a result, Chilean imports do not directly replace Brazilian plywood in traditional structural applications.

Total US plywood imports from worldwide sources, including Canada, declined 5% in 2022 to just over 2 million cubic meters. The 2021 total of 2.16 million cubic meters was the highest since 2018.

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