U.S. softwood lumber production climbs 8% to 11.904 bbf in first five months, up from 11.022 bbf in same period last year; Canadian sawmills increase output by 4.3% to 9.744 bbf: WWPA

Wendy Lisney

Wendy Lisney

LOS ANGELES , August 14, 2012 () – U.S. sawmills produced 11.904 billion board feet (bbf) in the first five months, an increase of 8% compared with the same period last year when sawmills produced 11.022 bbf, according to the Western Wood Products Assn.’s (WWPA) latest Lumber Track report.

Of that total, Western U.S. sawmills accounted for 5.281 bbf, up 9.1% from 4.840 bbf a year earlier; while output from Southern U.S. sawmills increased 7.1% from 5.594 bbf to 5.993 bbf.

In May alone, U.S. lumber production was 2.469 bbf, a 13.2% gain over last year’s 2.182 bbf, and 2.3% higher than output in April of 2.414 bbf.

Western sawmills produced 1.121 bbf in May, up 23.8% from 905 million board ft. (mmbf) a year ago and 6.9% above output in April of 1.048 bbf.

Output from Southern U.S. sawmills was 1.218 bbf in May, an increase of 5% from May 2011 (1.160 bbf), but down 1.6% from April’s 1,238 bbf.

U.S. softwood lumber consumption was 15.050 bbf in the first five months – up 7.5% from 14.002 bbf in the same period last year.

Consumption in May was 3.205 bbf, an increase of 12.6% from 2.847 bbf in May 2011, and 4.7 higher than consumption in April of 3.061 bbf.

Canadian softwood lumber production/consumption

Softwood lumber production by Canadian sawmills in the year to May 30 was 9.744 bbf, an increase of 4.3% compared with the same period last year (9.340 bbf).

Sawmills in British Columbia accounted for 5.291 bbf of that total – up 4.5% from 5.065 bbf in the same period last year. Sawmills east of the Rockies produced 4.453 bbf – 4.2% higher than production in the same period last year of 4.276 bbf.

In May alone, Canadian production was 1.975 bbf, up 61.0% from l.863 bbf in May last year, and 1.6% higher than April’s output of 1.945 bbf.

Of May's total, sawmills in British Columbia accounted for 1.045 bbf, up 1.8% from last year (1.027 bbf) and 0.1% higher than April’s production figure of 1.044 bbf. Sawmills east of the Rockies produced 930 mmbf in May, up 11.2% from last May (837 mmbf) and 11.2% higher than April’s output of 900 mmbf.

Canadian softwood lumber consumption climbed 0.7% to 3.412 bbf in the first five months from 3.390 bbf last year. In May alone, consumption was 662 mmbf, down 5.6% from last year (702 mmbf) and 2.6% lower than April’s consumption of 680 mmbf.

U.S. and Canada utilization/inventories

U.S. production as a percentage of practical capacity averaged 77% in the first five months, up from 72% in the same period last year. In Canada, the figure was 84%, compared with 81% a year earlier.

U.S. inventories increased by 5.2% to 2.929 bbf in May from 2.785 bbf a year earlier. In Canada, inventories dropped 10.9% to 2.655 bbf from 2.981 bbf.

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