N. American lumber production on a downward trend

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U.S. sawmills in February produced 2.829 billion board ft. (bbf) of softwood lumber, a decrease of 5.0% from February 2022, and down 7.5% compared with January 2023’s 3.058 bbf, according to the Western Wood Products Assn.’s Lumber Track report for February, dated May 11. 

Western U.S. sawmills in February contributed 1,008 bbf to the total, down 12.3% from the prior year’s 1.149 bbf, while output from Southern sawmills fell 0.1% year-over-year to 1.694 bbf from 1.695 bbf. Compared with January, Western sawmill production decreased 9.9% and Southern output fell 6.0%.

Apparent U.S. softwood lumber consumption in February was 3.900 bbf, down 6.1% from 4.154 bbf in February 2022 and 9.5% lower than 4.307 bbf in January. 

U.S. production as a percentage of practical capacity averaged 79% in February, down from 84% in February 2022 and from 81% in January. 

U.S. inventories in February rose 4.1% year-over-year to 3.125 bbf from 3.002 bbf.

Canadian softwood lumber industry activity

Canadian sawmills in February produced 1.626 bbf of softwood lumber, down 10.5% from February 2022’s 1.817 bbf, but up 2.8% from January’s 1.582 bbf.

British Columbia mills accounted for 542 million board ft. (mmbf) of the February total, down 22.7% compared with February 2022’s 701 mmbf but up 3.7% compared with January’s 523 mmbf.

Sawmills east of the Rockies in February produced 1,084 bbf, down 2.9% from 1.116 bbf in February 2022 but 2.3% higher compared with January’s 1,060 mmbf.

Apparent Canadian softwood lumber consumption in February was 520 mmbf, up 13.5% from February 2022’s 458 mmbf, but down 8.5% from January. 

Canadian production as a percentage of practical capacity in February averaged 68%, down from 76% a year ago but up from 63% in January. 

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