Industry-funded programmes to increase US wood
Two industry-funded wood promotion programmes are
underway in the US, both with the goal to increase
demand for US wood products. The programme for
softwood sawnwood was voted in by producers in 2011
and a range of promotion projects are underway.
The second programme, for hardwood, has been more
controversial among the industry, which is much more
fragmented than the softwood industry with many smallsize
businesses. The proposal for the hardwood promotion
programme is still being finalised.
The softwood promotion programme is funding the
following activities in 2014 from a US$17.8 million
Work on building standards to maintain and expand
acceptance of appearance and structural softwood
sawnwood in the marketplace (through the American
Wood Council, www.awc.org)
Promote the acceptance and expand the use of
softwood sawnwood in post frame construction
(through the National Post Frame Building
Promote the values and benefits of appearance
and structural sawnwood products (through
reTHINK WOOD, www.rethinkwood.org)
Grow the market share for appearance and
structural softwood sawnwood in light
commercial and multi-family construction
(through WoodWorks, www.woodworks.org)
Timber Tower Project: research a composite
building system for mid and high-rise buildings
which relies primarily on softwood sawnwood
Appearance Product Promotion: implement a
communications program promoting the use of
softwood lumber in interior and exterior
More information about the activities is available through
the Softwood Lumber Board which administers the
Cabinet market annual growth forecast at 6% to 2018
US demand for cabinets is project to grow 6.6% per year
According to a market research report by Freedonia,
demand will reach US$16.0 billion in 2018, up from
US$11.6 billion in 2013 (Freedonia, Industry Study
Cabinets, May 2014).
The growth in demand is based on expectations of
growing housing starts, larger kitchens and multiple
bathrooms and more remodeling as sales of existing
Demand for cabinets for residential remodeling accounts
for more than two thirds of total US cabinet consumption.
The two next largest markets are non-residential
remodelers and new home installations.
Freedonia expects the non-residential building sector to
grow in the next four years. Both new construction and
remodeling of office buildings, hotels and healthcare
facilities will increase demand for cabinets.
By cabinet type, kitchen cabinets accounted for 81% of
total US demand in 2013. Kitchen cabinet demand is
projected to grow fastest, reaching $13.1 billion in 2018.
The domestic industry dominates the cabinet market.
Imports accounted for approximately 6% of total demand
in 2013. Even fewer cabinets are exported from the US
(about 1% of total production). Domestic cabinet
production is projected to increase.
Slight increase in April tropical sawnwood imports
Total US sawn hardwood imports were 85,942 cubic
metres in April, up 22% from the previous month but still
below February import volumes. The growth in imports
was mainly in temperate species, while tropical sawnwood
imports increased slightly (+2.7%) in April to 19,886
However, tropical sawnwood imports were not affected by
the previous month‟s decline and year-to-date tropical
imports were 10% higher than in April 2013.
By species, balsa and sapelli sawnwood showed the
strongest growth in April. All other main tropical species
declined with the exception of jatoba.
Balsa imports from Ecuador grew by 31% to 7,192 cubic
metres in April. Imports from Cameroon doubled from the
previous month to 2,143 cubic metres due to higher sapelli
shipments of 1,601 cubic metres.
Imports from Brazil decreased to 2,534 cubic metres in
April (-28%). Brazilian ipe sawnwood shipments to the
US fell to 1,808 cubic metres, down from 2,348 cubic
metres in March.
Malaysian shipments to the US increased slightly to 1,874
cubic metres in April. Imports of keruing from Malyasia
were up (1,337 cubic metres), while red meranti declined
to just 241 cubic metres.
Imports from Indonesia declined to 906 cubic metres in
April. Unlike Malaysia, Indonesia increased red meranti
shipments (350 cubic metres) while keruing fell to 197
Canadian April sawn hardwood imports up 15%
The value of Canadian imports of tropical sawn hardwood
increased by 15% from the previous month to US$2.23
million in April. Year-to-date imports were 27% higher in
April than at the same time in 2013.
Cameroon was Canada‟s largest tropical sawnwood
supplier in April with shipments worth US$394,890, up
one third from the previous month. Imports from Ghana
also increased. April imports from Ghana were worth
US$273,933 and year-to-date imports were more than
double from last year.
Imports from Brazil fell by half to US$169,284. Imports
from Ecuador, Congo/Brazzaville and Malaysia also
declined in April.
Lower hardwood plywood imports from China in March
US imports of hardwood plywood decreased by 8% to
220,697 cubic metres in March. Year-to-date imports were
4% lower than in March 2013.
The largest decline was in plywood imports from China.
Hardwood plywood imports from China fell by 33% to
81,692 cubic metres in March. Imports from Indonesia
(25,972 cubic metres) and Malaysia (6,385 cubic metres)
also declined in March. Shipments from Russia, Ecuador
and Canada to the US increased.
Moulding imports from Brazil up
Hardwood moulding imports increased by 12% in March
to $15.4 million. Year-to-date imports were slightly higher
than in 2013.
Imports from Brazil were up 59% from the previous
month at $4.5 million in March. China was the secondlargest
source of hardwood moulding imports at $3.7
million, but imports from China remain below 2013 levels.
Malaysian shipments were below $1 million, down 18%
Decline in hardwood flooring imports
US flooring imports remain below 2013 levels. The
housing market is still relatively weak, but improving
domestic production also plays a role.
Hardwood flooring imports declined by 20% in March to
$2.3 million. Imports from all major suppliers except
Canada fell. China shipped $0.24 million worth of
hardwood flooring in March, down 71% from the previous
Assembled flooring panel imports grew by 8% to $8.5
million in March. Imports from China declined by 3% to
$3.4 million. Imports of assembled flooring from
Indonesia and Brazil decreased in March, although
Indonesia‟s year-to-date shipments in 2014 are almost
50% higher than last year.
Higher furniture imports from Indonesia, Mexico and
US imports of wooden furniture fell below the $1 billion
mark in March. Imports declined by 5% to $962.8 million.
However, year-to-date imports were 9% higher than in
Imports from China and Vietnam went down in March,
while Canada, Indonesia, Mexico and Malaysia increased
furniture shipments to the US.
Imports from China declined by 22% to $374.1 million in
March. Imports from Vietnam were $157.7 million, down
12% from February.
The largest increase in wooden furniture imports in 2014
to date has been from Mexico and Indonesia. Year-to-date
imports from Mexico were up 84% compared to 2013.
Indonesian shipments were 43% higher than last year.
Furniture, home furnishing retail sales down in April
Retail sales at furniture and home furnishing stores in the
US fell by 7% from March to April, according to US
Census Bureau data. Sales are higher than at the start of
the year, however, and March sales figures were positive.
Slight decline in unemployment rate in April, Q1 GDP
growth just 0.1%
The US economy expanded in April according to the
Institute for Supply Management. Almost all
manufacturing industries reported growth in April,
including furniture and wood products. The furniture
industry grew at a faster rate than wood products. Some
companies reported concern about international political
issues affecting export demand.
The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to
6.3% in April. The number of jobs grew across all sectors,
The US Department of Commerce‟s first estimate of GDP
growth in the first quarter of 2014 was just 0.1%, down
from 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Consumers more confident in US economy
Consumer confidence in the US economy finally
rebounded in April, according to the Thomson
Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment
index. The index increased by 5% from the previous
month, and it was 10% higher than in April 2013.
More Americans are positive about their current personal
financial and the overall economic outlook. Higher income
households plan to make more purchases this year. Despite
an improvement in the short-term economic outlook,
Americans still worry about the longer-term health of the
Housing starts up 2.8% in March
Housing starts grew by 2.8% in March, based on the
seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 starts in March
released by the US Census Bureau.
Single-family home starts increased by 6% from the
previous month, while multi-family starts declined by
6.1%. The growth in housing starts was strongest in the
US Northeast and Midwest, where the severe winter
weather had affected construction most.
The number of building permits declined from 1 million
units in February to 990,000 in March (seasonally adjusted
annual rate). The decline in permits was mainly in the US
South. The number of building permits issued is an
indicator of future building activity.
Home builders remain concerned about market for
Home builder confidence in the market for newly built
single-family homes changed little in the last three
months. Last month‟s builder confidence in the market for
newly built single-family homes was revised downwards
by one point.
In April, confidence grew slightly (by one point),
according to the National Association of Home Builders.
When homes sales increase in spring, demand for new
houses is expected to grow.
Commercial building construction only bright spot in
The US non-residential construction market remains weak,
according to US Census Bureau data. Private spending on
non-residential construction in January and February was
revised downwards. From February to March private
spending was practically unchanged.Public spending on
office, commercial, health care and educational buildings
declined by 2.9% in March. The only bright spot was
public spending in commercial construction, which
increased by 3.9% from the previous month.
The American Institute of Architects‟ latest report
confirms the weak market. The construction of
commercial, industrial and institutional buildings lags the
residential construction market. Business conditions are
particularly weak in the Northeast and Midwest.