What’s next for a sluggish lumber market?

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“And at the same time, we’ve had all these new sawmills built in the US so they’re sort of ramping up like crazy… There’s all this pent-up production capacity that’s starting to move as COVID disappears, as supply chains ease, as they get back working, and now we’re getting the increases in the US south coming up and basically providing a lot more lumber available in the market relative to demand.”

A series of mill curtailments in BC have also followed, a result of what Taylor described as the province’s status as a high-cost producer because of stumpage costs and a shortage of available timber.

“When there’s too much supply, the high-cost producer shuts down, and that’s been BC in 2018, in 2020, 2021, 2022, and this year,” he said.

Grounds for optimism

The good news? As the weather gets better and spring continues, opportunities for housebuilding should increase, according to Taylor, while the third quarter of the year usually sees mills and loggers in northern Canada get back to work.

“I think the second quarter is going to be the bottom for prices, anyway,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to see some higher prices and probably some steady increases in consumption as a result, but the balance of supply and demand is still going to be out of whack, I think, for the rest of the year.”

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