Recently, we have noticed a steady increase in demand in walnut. We have noticed an increase in demand in the domestic USA market for special walnut inventory items. Specifically, we have seen customers requesting more high end color sorted walnut with special heartwood specs such as 90/70 and 90/90. We have also seen an increase of inquiries for walnut graded on oak rules which gives customers more clear cuttings, less defects and better yields.
Demand for standard 1 common and 2 common walnut in thicknesses ranging from 4/4 through 8/4 has also been growing from many of our export markets including Eastern Europe, the Middle East and SE Asia. But why?
In our opinion, the increase in demand for common grade material overseas is due to a general design trend towards walnut products overall. Walnut flooring and furniture still has a great consumer appeal and is regularly sought after by manufacturers overseas for their own consumer markets of re-export back to the United States.
However, in North America we are probably seeing a shift in the type of walnut lumber demand as manufacturers seek ways to better match the walnut they order with the production methods they use to increase their lumber yields when using this expensive material. Our recent customer inquiries have been for lumber more specific than standard random width and length. For example, requests for walnut strips in widths ranging from 4.0”- 4.5” and 5.0”- 6.0” have been increasing. We have even seen a recent willingness for certain manufacturers to accept shorts, (6’ only or 7’ only) walnut length sorts.
We have also noted a general increase in competition for green lumber. This is likely to keep pricing for kiln dried material strong in the foreseeable future.
Fortunately, we have been able to increase our supply sources through the mid-western States which is a region where much walnut is sourced. We have also increased our kiln drying capabilities in our Leitchfield, Kentucky facility which will enable us to keep up with this increase in customer demand as well as continue to manufacturer the specific SLR2E walnut programs we support out of this facility.
If you have any questions about sourcing walnut please let us know. We would be happy to be a resource for you!