U.S. softwood lumber production reaches 20.339 bbf in first nine months, up 8.8% from 18.696 bbf a year earlier: WWPA

LOS ANGELES , December 5, 2011 () – In the nine months to September, U.S. softwood lumber production was 20.339 billion board feet (bbf), up 8.8% from the 18.696 bbf produced in the same period last year.

Output from mills in the West jumped 8.1% to 9.115 bbf compared with 2010 (8.432 bbf), according to statistics released on Dec. 2 by the Western Wood Products Assn. (WWPA).

Production from southern sawmills also increased, from 9.276 bbf in the first nine months of last year to 10.150 bbf for the same period in 2011 - a rise of 9.4%.

For September alone, U.S. output dropped 4.1% from 2.361 bbf in August to 2.265 bbf. But compared with September 2010, output this year was up 8% from 2.097 bbf.

Year-over-year, Western sawmills increased production in September by 11.1% to 1.053 bbf from 948 million board feet (mmbf), and output at southern mills was up 5.2% to 1.092 bbf from 1.038 bbf last year .

On a month-by-month basis, western mills produced 6.2% less volume in September than in August (1.123 bbf), and production at southern mills fell by 2% from 1.114 bbf.

U.S. lumber consumption in the first nine months increased by 4.1% to 25.895 bbf compared with last year’s figure of 24.872 bbf. In September alone, consumption rose by 8% against the same month last year from 2.717 bbf to 2.935 bbf. Compared with August, consumption was down 1.1% from 2.967 bbf.

Canadian softwood lumber production/consumption

Canadian production rose 2.3% in the first nine months from 16.667 bbf in 2010 to 17.050 bbf.

Sawmills in British Columbia pushed up output by 7.4% from 8.635 bbf in 2010 to 9.275 bbf in 2011. But production at mills east of the Rockies dropped 3.2% in the nine-month period from 8.032 bbf last year to 7.774 bbf.

Canadian output in September 2011 was up 3.7% from August’s 1.865 bbf at 1.934 bbf. Compared with Sept. 2010 (1.879 bbf), production was up 2.9%.

In September alone, production in British Columbia fell by 0.3% to 1.042 bbf from August’s level of 1.044 bbf. Against September 2010, volumes this September were up 9.1% from 954 mmbf.

East of the Rockies, mills produced 892 mmbf in September 2011, an increase of 8.8% over August (820 mmbf), but down 3.5% from Sept. 2010 (924 mmbf).

Canadian consumption fell by 7% in the first nine months to 6.845 bbf, down from 7.359 bbf in the same period last year. For September alone, Canadian consumption dropped by 0.6% from August (713 mmbf) to 709 mmbf. Consumption during September was 17.8% lower than in the same month last year (862 mmbf).

U.S. and Canada utilization/inventories

As a percentage of practical capacity, output from U.S. sawmills averaged 75% in the first nine months of 2011 compared with 69% in the same period of 2010. Canada’s average was also 75% for the first nine months of this year against 74% in 2010.

U.S. inventories were up 5.2% in September at 2.745 bbf compared with 2.610 bbf in September 2010. Canadian inventories were also higher at 2.715 bbf, up 8.7% from September last year (2.497 bbf).

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