U.S. softwood veneer and plywood market update

September 5, 2019

By: The Working Forest Staff

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. Softwood veneer and plywood Market. Analysis And Forecast to 2025’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the softwood veneer and plywood market in the U.S. amounted to $4B in 2018, stabilizing at the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). In general, softwood veneer and plywood consumption continues to indicate a measured reduction. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2014 with an increase of 3.2% year-to-year. In that year, the softwood veneer and plywood market attained its peak level of $4.6B. From 2015 to 2018, the growth of the softwood veneer and plywood market remained at a lower figure.

Production of softwood veneer and plywood in the U.S.

In 2018, the softwood veneer and plywood production in the U.S. stood at 10M tonnes, shrinking by -3.9% against the previous year. In general, softwood veneer and plywood production continue to indicate a drastic descent. Over the period under review, softwood veneer and plywood production reached its maximum volume at 13M tonnes in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2018, production stood at a somewhat lower figure.

In value terms, softwood veneer and plywood production amounted to $3.6B.

Exports from the U.S.

In 2018, approx. 160K tonnes of softwood veneer and plywood were exported from the U.S.; falling by -14.3% against the previous year. Overall, softwood veneer and plywood exports continue to indicate a measured reduction. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2016 when exports increased by 164% year-to-year. Exports peaked at 187K tonnes in 2017 and then declined slightly in the following year.

In value terms, softwood veneer and plywood exports amounted to $51M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. In general, softwood veneer and plywood exports continue to indicate a significant curtailment. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2016 with an increase of 81% y-o-y. Exports peaked at $61M in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2018, exports failed to regain their momentum.

Exports by country

China (130K tonnes) was the main destination for softwood veneer and plywood exports from the U.S., accounting for a 81% share of total exports. Moreover, softwood veneer and plywood exports to China exceeded the volume sent to the second major destination, the Dominican Republic (7.6K tonnes), more than tenfold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by South Korea (4.1K tonnes), with a 2.5% share.

From 2013 to 2018, the average annual rate of growth in terms of volume to China stood at -1.9%. Exports to the other major destinations recorded the following average annual rates of exports growth: the Dominican Republic (+24.9% per year) and South Korea (-22.3% per year).

In value terms, China ($26M) remains the key foreign market for softwood veneer and plywood exports from the U.S., comprising 52% of total softwood veneer and plywood exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by the Dominican Republic ($6.5M), with a 13% share of total exports. It was followed by Saint Lucia, with a 3.8% share.

From 2013 to 2018, the average annual rate of growth in terms of value to China amounted to -7.4%. Exports to the other major destinations recorded the following average annual rates of exports growth: the Dominican Republic (+26.7% per year) and Saint Lucia (+19.8% per year).

Export prices by country

The average softwood veneer and plywood export price stood at $315 per tonne in 2018, increasing by 11% against the previous year. In general, the softwood veneer and plywood export price, however, continues to indicate a mild decline. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2015 an increase of 20% year-to-year. In that year, the average export prices for softwood veneer and plywood attained their peak level of $437 per tonne. From 2016 to 2018, the growth in terms of the average export prices for softwood veneer and plywood remained at a somewhat lower figure.

There were significant differences in the average prices for the major foreign markets. In 2018, the country with the highest price was the Dominican Republic ($845 per tonne), while the average price for exports to China ($201 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was recorded for supplies to South Korea, while the prices for the other major destinations experienced more modest paces of growth.

Imports into the U.S.

In 2018, the amount of softwood veneer and plywood imported into the U.S. amounted to 1.1M tonnes, picking up by 48% against the previous year. Overall, softwood veneer and plywood imports continue to indicate an extraordinary increase. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2016 with an increase of 58% against the previous year. Imports peaked in 2018 and are likely to continue its growth in the immediate term.

In value terms, softwood veneer and plywood imports amounted to $917M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. Over the period under review, softwood veneer and plywood imports continue to indicate extraordinary growth. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2018 when imports increased by 66% against the previous year. In that year, softwood veneer and plywood imports reached their peak and are likely to continue their growth in the immediate term.

Imports by country

Brazil (427K tonnes), China (422K tonnes) and Chile (234K tonnes) were the main suppliers of softwood veneer and plywood imports to the U.S., together comprising 94% of total imports.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of imports, amongst the main suppliers, was attained by China (+53.0% per year), while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, China ($380M), Brazil ($274M) and Chile ($208M) were the largest softwood veneer and plywood suppliers to the U.S., with a combined 94% share of total imports.

Brazil experienced the highest rates of growth with regard to imports, in terms of the main suppliers over the last five years, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Import prices by country

The average softwood veneer and plywood import price stood at $798 per tonne in 2018, rising by 12% against the previous year. Overall, the softwood veneer and plywood import price, however, continues to indicate a pronounced decline. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2018 an increase of 12% y-o-y. Over the period under review, the average import prices for softwood veneer and plywood reached their peak figure at $975 per tonne in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2018, import prices stood at a somewhat lower figure.

Average prices varied somewhat amongst the major supplying countries. In 2018, the countries with the highest prices were Finland ($905 per tonne) and China ($901 per tonne), while the price for Uruguay ($627 per tonne) and Brazil ($643 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Finland, while the prices for the other major suppliers experienced a decline.

 

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