From January 2017 to June 2018, average prices for commonly traded lumber in the U.S., increased by 40 per cent. During the same period, sawlog prices were practically unchanged in the U.S., South and rose about 28 per cent in Western U.S., resulting in higher gross margins in 2018 for sawmills in both regions.
Similar developments have occurred in Canada, leading to record high profitability for many of the country’s sawmills thanks to the high lumber prices in the U.S.
Wood costs are by far the largest and most important cost component when manufacturing softwood lumber and are often the factor that determines a lumber company’s competitiveness.
The Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ) has tracked quarterly sawlog prices worldwide since 1995. This publication also discusses quarterly sawmill gross margins for key lumber-producing regions around the world. In its latest issue, quarterly sawlog costs, lumber prices and gross margins for sawmills in eight key regions worldwide are reported for the period 1Q/05 to 2Q/18.
The gross margin is defined as the net wood costs (sawlog costs minus the income from sawmill residuals) deducted from lumber revenues and is a reliable indicator of the changing trend in profitability in a region’s sawmill sector.