North American Trip and NHLA Convention

01 Nov 2019

James Hopper and John Sowerby recently undertook another trip to the U.S.A. to visit a number of suppliers. They spent their time constructively inspecting and purchasing lumber.

The message from most suppliers was could we buy any Red Oak? Many of them have vast air dried and kiln dried inventory due to the double whammy of the Chinese slow-down in the economy and the U.S. government tariffs. Ironically this could lead to a shortage at some point because the price of Red Oak has crashed so low the landowners are not selling logs. Add to that the fact that some mills will not survive this downturn then a shortage followed by a price hike will be inevitable. This all has a knock on to White Oak prices because if landowners are not selling parcels of standing timber for felling the White Oak logs remain in the forest too. Plus the White Oak stave business remains buoyant putting more pressure on White Oak log supply. All the suppliers they visited complained about the shortage of logs for the time of year. The tipping point could well come over winter, depending how severe the weather is, so purchasing now may well prove to be a shrewd move.

Poplar and Ash prices appear to be easing but Walnut is holding firm with increasing demand for the higher grades both domestically and for export.

Following three days of sawmill visits James and John travelled to New Orleans for the NHLA Convention which was a great opportunity to meet with many of their current and potential new suppliers. The mood was positive in the “Big Easy” despite the current poor economic climate in the lumber trade in the U.S.