Tropical Hardwood Update - Jesper Bach

tropical hardwood lumberThere is no doubt it has been a challenging year for the North American hardwood lumber industry. However, when it comes to imported tropical hardwoods, it seems business has been steady.

From our perspective, we have seen our available inventories decline slightly. This has been partially by design but in the last few months more due to lack of shipping capacity out of Africa.

Baillie Lumber sources several of our more popular imported species from Africa.  Species such as African Mahogany, Bubinga, Cedar Odorata and Sapele are just a few. With the reduced availability of shipping capacity our inventory replacement intervals for these species, and others, are increasing.  For example, in some instances, what once was a 30 to 60 day interval for container loading at the port can sometimes now be 120 to 150 days. Furthermore, with the lack of capacity out of Africa we are once again seeing a rise in shipping rates. From August to September alone we have seen a 20% increase in freight costs. That translates into roughly a $ 100/mbf increase in ocean freight for most of our hardwood lumber products coming from that region.

Reflecting on the South American market, we found the Brazilian species experienced the full range of pricing volatility throughout the pandemic. We saw a rise of as much as 30% during that period, but that has since subsided. Today we are seeing pricing levels back to pre-covid levels.  Our inventories of Brazilian hardwoods are once again well balanced and we recently received new shipments of Bloodwood, Lacewood, Purpleheart and Jatoba. Some of these shipments have already been through the kilns and are available for customers.

Although our kiln dried inventory is currently stable and well balanced across many species, we could experience some shortages as we close out the year. Especially if the capacity issue out of Africa doesn’t get resolved. With his in mind, we have been advising our customers that for larger projects it is definitely important to plan ahead! And if you are looking for some Zebrawood or Wenge please let us know. We have recently received some new 4/4” and 8/4” stock which was much needed since both species were very difficult to source the past few years!

Please let us know how we can help you with any of your imported hardwood needs!

Jesper Bach
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