Latest on Imported Tropical Hardwoods

tropical hardwood update feb 2023The first month of 2023 turned out to be quite a busy time in the world of imported tropical hardwoods. To some degree, hardwood distributors and manufacturers seem to be replenishing their lumber inventories.  Most North American hardwood distributors are reporting they are off to a great start for the year and that their customers are actively seeking hardwood lumber.

For us, we are happy to report that a good amount of new imported tropical hardwood lumber inventory has arrived in our Cove City, North Carolina yard to meet this demand. It is actually the first time in two years we feel we are adequately stocked with kiln dried imported lumber to serve the needs of our existing customers.

When it comes to incoming shipments, things seem to be improving. We are noticing there has been more capacity available on ocean vessels to accommodate cargo, but the ocean freight rates from most of our supply regions still are quite elevated. For hardwoods from Africa prices are firm. This is mostly due to the exchange rate and the weaking U.S. dollar compared to the Euro recently. It has basically been an 8-10% effective increase in raw material costs.

Our African hardwood suppliers are also facing new challenges. Local operating costs continue to be on the rise and the price of diesel fuel is still very high and the general supply of it is extremely limited. Especially in the Congo basin. Furthermore, a log ban was issued for part of this region as well. Currently, only a small percentage of Sapele logs are available for export. New additional local taxes on other log species are also making it more difficult for sawmills to absorb costs.  All these issues are sure indicators that we should plan to see added increases in raw material cost for 2023.

Lastly, as the industry prepares for African Mahogany to be included on the CITES list starting February 23rd, there seems to be some confusion on how this will work for imports into America. The result for now makes us believe there will be very few arrivals on new inventory of African Mahogany in the first half of the year.

Our inventories of Jatoba, Red Grandis and Sapele still seem to be adequate so let us know if we can help you with those or any of your other imported tropical hardwood needs. Let us know how we can help!

Jesper Bach
Baillie Lumber
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