Sawmill capacity closures continue to reshape the US lumber supply landscape

By Dustin Jalbert
RISI Fastmarkets
September 7, 2023
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

While 2020 and 2021 were phenomenally profitable years for the industry, since the spring of 2022 prices have collapsed below critical break-even levels for North America’s high-cost supplying regions for dimensional lumber: the BC Interior and US West Coast. …Softwood sawmill capacity in BC and the US West Coast totaled 11.8 billion board feet (bbf) and 10.7 bbf in 2022, respectively, or about 31% of the industry capacity base. …To date, 1.7 bbf of indefinite or permanent closures have been announced. This equates to about 2-3% of the North American softwood sawmill capacity base, marking a notable cut to industry supply. …Almost all the announced capacity is in the Northwest and British Columbia, the latter accounting for the lion’s share of the announcements. BC’s total contribution to the capacity losses in this round of cuts, starting in the third quarter of 2022, is about 1.5 bbf, though 200-300 mmbf of these cuts are indefinite rather than permanent closures.

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