FEA Canada/WOOD MARKETS’ 2017 annual survey of “top 20” Canadian and U.S. lumber producers featured mixed production trends despite a runaway lumber market in the U.S. With few mill acquisitions, almost all of the production gains arose from improvements at existing mills. Of the top 40 companies, eight in Canada and six in the U.S. recorded production declines — not the trend you’d expect during a time of near-record-high to record-high lumber prices.

Total Canadian softwood lumber shipments declined by 1.7% to 28.0 billion bf while U.S. production increased by 3.7% to 33.9 billion bf.

These and other industry highlights were recently released in the March 2018 issue of WOOD Markets Monthly International Report. The team at FEA Canada/WOOD MARKETS, Vancouver B.C. have conducted this survey annually since 1997.

The top 10 Canadian producers have seen their shipments grow at a slightly slower pace than the overall Canadian industry since 2014. In 2017, the softwood lumber shipments of the top 10 decreased marginally versus a larger decline in Canada as a whole (-1.4% for the top 10; -1.7% for Canada). The drop in Canadian shipments is a function of many factors, but the implementation of import duties to the U.S. in early 2017 was one that caused Canadian companies to re-evaluate their markets and mills.

Given the import duties, Canadian mill investments in the U.S. South are proving very strategic due to ample timber supply in the region and high sawmilling margins (the result of subdued timber prices due to oversupply). There was one notable U.S. acquisition in 2017: West Fraser’s purchase of Gilman Lumber’s six sawmills. Currently, the collective U.S. mill count of West Fraser, Canfor and Interfor (45 mills) allows their sawmill operations to enjoy excellent diversification on both sides of the border.

Read more on this from Wood Markets at https://www.woodmarkets.com/canada-u-s-top-20-lumber-producers-annual-ranking-2017/.