West Fraser remained the world’s largest softwood lumber producer for a sixth consecutive year in 2013, but runner-up Canfor narrowed the gap as most of the top producers in the “Billion Board Foot Club” increased output to supply the recovering U.S. housing market and meet strong demand from China, according to an industry report.
Vancouver-based West Fraser’s production from 26 mills in B.C., Alberta and the U.S. south exceeded five billion board feet for the first time, reaching 5.15 billion net board feet or 8.3 million cubic meters. It was followed by Canfor at 4.75 billion board feet. Weyerhaeuser’s softwood lumber operations in the U.S. and Canada were in third at four billion board feet.
The International Wood Markets survey said the world’s top 12 producers remained unchanged and included five Canadian and four U.S. producers, one European company, one South American firm and one company headquartered in Russia.
“With U.S. housing starts up for the fourth consecutive year, most North American companies increased output, although in different ways: some restarted curtailed mills or added shifts, while other benefited from mill capital expenditure programs or outright acquisitions,” stated Russell Taylor, Wood Markets president. He said all but two companies posted production gains last year. The average increase was seven percent, with two growing by more than 25 percent.
The total output of the 12 companies was 28.95 billion board feet, up from 26.96 billion board feet. Overall global softwood production grew by only two percent.