The latest Wood Markets annual survey of the top 20 Canadian and U.S. softwood lumber producers shows an uneven trend across North America for 2012: U.S. softwood lumber production increased 6.3 percent to 28.5 billion bf, whereas Canadian production increased only 0.4 percent to 22.6 billion bf. Rapidly increasing demand outpaced mill output in 2012, while blockbuster corporate acquisitions and catastrophic mill fires further altered the production landscape.

The top 20 Canadian companies increased their market share of total Canadian lumber production, rising from 75 percent in 2011 to 80 percent in 2012. Despite surging prices in U.S. and China in the second half of 2012, it was not enough to change the production response at Canada’s lumber mills from those levels achieved in 2011. A tightening of timber supplies in B.C., Ontario and Quebec were partly responsible.

The output of the top 20 U.S. companies rose strongly: from 15.1 billion bf in 2011 to 16.4 billion bf (+9.1 percent) in 2012. In doing so, these firms increased their market share of U.S. production from 56 to 58 percent. Of note, all regions in the U.S. recorded production increases in 2012, with the U.S. South showing the largest gains in lumber volume (an increase of more than 800 million bf as compared to 2011).

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