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Decrease in U.S. softwood lumber production

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U.S. sawmills produced 32.612 billion board ft. (bbf) of softwood lumber in the first 11 months of 2019, down 0.4% from the 32.467 bbf produced in the same period a year earlier.

Western U.S. sawmills contributed 13.203 bbf to the 11-month total, down 1.4% from the prior year’s 13.390 bbf, while output from Southern sawmills was up 1.9% to 17.873 bbf from 17.548 bbf in the same period of 2018.

In November 2019 alone, U.S. sawmills produced 2.611 bbf – down 2.5% from November 2018’s 2.678 bbf, and down 21.3% from production in October 2019 of 3.317 bbf.

Sawmills in the West contributed 1.096 bbf to November’s total, down 0.6% year-over-year from 1.103 bbf, and down 16.4% compared with the previous month’s volume of 1.311 bbf. Southern sawmills accounted for 1.392 bbf in November, a year-over-year decrease of 3.9% from 1.449 bbf in November 2018, and down 24.8% compared with 1.850 bbf in October 2019.

Apparent U.S. softwood lumber consumption in the first 11 months of 2019 was 44.774 bbf, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. In November 2019, apparent U.S. consumption was 3.541 bbf, down 5.5% from 3.748 bbf a year earlier, and down 19.9% from 4.422 bbf in October 2019.

Canadian softwood lumber production/consumption

Canadian sawmills in the 11 months through November 2019 produced 22.745 bbf of softwood lumber, down 10.8% from the prior year’s 25.486 bbf.

Sawmills in British Columbia accounted for 9.206 bbf of the 11-month total, a 20.7% drop from output a year earlier of 11.615 bbf. Sawmills east of the Rockies produced 13.539 bbf in the first 11 months of 2019, 2.4% less than the previous year’s output of 13.871 bbf.

Canadian softwood production in the month of November 2019 was 1.966 bbf, down 10.9% year-over-year from 2.207 bbf, and down 9.5% from output in October 2019 of 2.171 bbf.

Sawmills in British Columbia accounted for 746 million board ft. (mmbf) of November’s production volume, down 21.6% from 951 mmbf the prior year, and down 10.6% from October 2019’s volume of 835 mmbf. Sawmills east of the Rockies produced 1.219 bbf in November 2019, down 2.8% year-over-year from 1.255 bbf, and down 8.7% from 1.336 bbf in October 2019.

Apparent Canadian softwood lumber consumption in the first 11 months of 2019 plunged 15.4% to 7.667 bbf from the prior year’s 9.065 bbf. In November 2019, apparent Canadian consumption was 647 mmbf, down 19.4% from 803 mmbf a year earlier, and down 14.1% from October 2019’s figure of 753 mmbf.

U.S. and Canada utilization/inventories

U.S. production as a percentage of practical capacity averaged 84% in the first 11 months of 2019, down from 86% for the same period the prior year, while in Canada, the average dropped to 80% from 88%.

U.S. inventories declined in November by 0.2% year-over-year to 3.041 bbf from 3.048 bbf, while in Canada inventories were down 2.0% year-over-year to 3.159 bbf from 3.223 bbf.

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Sphagnum white
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