US Southern Pine exports to Mexico hit 30-year high in 2022

A record-setting surge in Southern Pine exports to Mexico propelled total US softwood lumber shipments to a 30-year high in 2022

Shipments of all species to Mexico climbed to 385 million board feet last year, up 8% from 2021 and the third-highest annual total on record. Exports reached 402 mmbf in 1992 and set a record at 593 mmbf in 1991.

Total exports to Mexico climbed for a second consecutive year, rising 91% from a 2020 trough. US shipments to that country declined for four consecutive years from 2016 to 2020.

Mexico becomes largest foreign market

For the first time since 2016, Mexico overtook Canada last year as the largest foreign market for US softwood lumber. Shipments to Canada declined 11% in 2022, falling to 316 mmbf.

Shipments were widely mixed by species. Southern Pine shipments jumped 60% compared to 2021, reaching 70 mmbf, surpassing 2016 as the highest volume on record. In recent years, Southern Pine has taken a back seat to Other Pine in the Mexican market. In 2021, for example, Other Pine exports to Mexico more than doubled compared to the previous year, reaching 137 mmbf.

Southern Pine shipments were less than a third of the Other Pine total that year at 43 mmbf. Other Pine remained the most common US species shipped to Mexico last year at 113 mmbf, but that was down 18% compared to 2021.

Strong demand for Southern Pine in Mexico

Southern Pine producers have noted in recent months that Mexican demand for Southern Pine timbers has been exceptionally strong. Many traders note that soaring timbers sales likely contributed heavily to the 2022 surge in total Southern Pine exports to Mexico.

Douglas Fir exports were also resurgent in Mexico last year, climbing 17% to 63 mmbf. Ponderosa Pine shipments, meanwhile, declined 15% to 45 mmbf. Historically, Ponderosa Pine exports to Mexico are heavy to 1-inch boards.

Ponderosa Pine exports to Mexico plunged during the pandemic and rebounded strongly in 2021 before last year’s decline.

Last year’s growth in US exports to Mexico ran counter to the otherwise downward trend in shipments to Canada and offshore destinations. Total US exports fell 12% last year. Historically higher prices in domestic markets prompted producers to focus on sales within the US.

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