Imports gained in 2021
Imports of sawn tropical hardwood grew by 25% in
2021 according to figures released by the US
Department of Agriculture and the US Census
Bureau. The data also show substantial gains over
2020 in several hardwood categories.
Imports of hardwood plywood rose in volume by
32% while spending on imports rose 35% for
hardwood flooring and 64% for assembled flooring
panels. Imports of wooden furniture rose 27% to
nearly US$24 billion in 2021 and cabinet sales grew
by 14.6%. Imports of tropical hardwood veneer,
however, fell by 1%.
Tropical hardwood imports
US import volumes of sawn tropical hardwood rose
2% in December remaining steady to close out the
year. Imports of Sapelli rose 9% over the previous
month and ended the year 36% higher than 2020.
Imports of Mahogany and Padauk both fell in
December but more than doubled in 2021. Imports of
Balsa fared the worst in 2021, falling by 27%, while
imports of Iroko were down 24% for the year.
Imports of Jatoba fell by 3% in December but grew
by 77% in 2021 and weres by far the most imported
species of the tropical hardwood. Second was Ipe
imports, which rose 63% in December, but ended the
year down 6% from the previous year. (Both Ipe and
Jatoba were removed from the tropical hardwood
imports category by the USDA earlier this year).
Counting Jatoba and Ipe imports, 2021 saw a 25%
gain in US imports of tropical hardwood lumber over
Canada also saw steady tropical hardwood imports in
December and for the year imported 8% more than in
2020. In 2021, imports from Cameroon grew by 34%
as that country distanced itself as Canada¡¯s top
trading partner, while imports from the US fell 55%
among US/Canada trade dispute.
Hardwood plywood imports soar
US imports of hardwood plywood rose 33% in
December to record their highest level in more than
six years. The December import volume of 379,185
cubic metres was the most since June 2015. Imports
from Indonesia jumped by 171% in December and
ended 2021 49% higher for the year as Indonesia
emerged as the top supplier for the US Vietnam was
the second largest supplier, up 30% for the year.
All major supplying countries increased volume by
more than 10% for the year except China which saw
a decline of 1%. Total imports for 2021 were 32%
higher than 2020.
Veneer imports slide
US imports of tropical hardwood veneer fell 27% in
December as 2021 imports came up just short of the
previous year¡¯s totals. Imports from Italy, by far the
top trading partner, fell 60% in December but ended
the year up 11% over their 2020 total.
Imports from China gained 2% in December but for
the year ended down 19%. Imports from Cameroon
in December rallied to their highest month since 2017
but still ended down 2% for all of 2021. Total
imports for 2021 lagged 2020 imports by just under
Hardwood flooring imports retreat
After a strong November, US imports of hardwood
flooring declined by 21% in December. A monthly
decrease of 16% from Brazil and 28% from Malaysia
lead to the overall drop.
Despite the loss, imports for 2021 surpassed 2020
totals by 35% as imports from Brazil grew by 88%
and imports from Malaysia grew 28%. Imports from
China and Indonesia were both down significantly in
2021 although both saw strong gains in December.
Imports of assembled flooring panels also fell in
December, dropping 7% from November totals.
Vietnam emerged as the top trading partner for the
year after gaining 58% over 2020, while Canada fell
to second after rising only 6% for the year. Total
imports for the year came in up 64% over 2020 as
imports from Brazil increased more than 10 times
and imports from Thailand nearly quadrupled.
Moulding imports reach three-year high
US imports of hardwood moulding rose 23% in
December to their highest level since December
2018. Imports from Malaysia and Brazil both rose
more than 70% for the month.
Imports from Malaysia ended the year up 25% over
the previous year. Imports from Canada, by far the
top trade partner, increased by 51% in 2021 despite
falling 9% in December. Imports from China fell by
39% in 2021 but did manage a 33% increase from
November to December. Overall hardwood
moulding imports rose 27% in 2021.
US wooden furniture imports rise to end record
The US imported nearly US$24 billion of wooden
furniture in 2021, an average of just under US$2
billion per month and 27% higher than in 2020.
Imports rose 27% in December to US$1.94 billion as
imports from Vietnam rose 60% for the month.
For the year, Imports from Vietnam, the top US trade
partner, rose by 23%, while imports from Mexico and
India both grew by more than 60%. Imports from
every chief trading partner grew by more than 10% in
2021, with the exception of Malaysia, where imports
rose only 2%.
Cabinet sales rose nearly 15% in 2021
US cabinet manufacturers reported an 1.1% overall
gain in sales in December, according to the Kitchen
Cabinet Manufacturers Association¡¯s (KCMA)
monthly Trend of Business Survey. The month-tomonth
comparison showed stock sales gaining 2.1%,
semi-custom sales rising 0.4%, and custom sales
dropping by 1.8%.
The numbers look much better compared with last
year. The survey showed that participating cabinet
manufacturers reported an increase in overall cabinet
sales of 15.2% for December 2021 compared to the
same month in 2020. Custom sales rose 14.7%, semicustom
sales were up 8.9%, and stock sales jumped
December capped a very strong year, with overall
cabinet sales in 2021 up 14.6% when compared to
2020. Custom sales were up 19.5%, semi-custom
sales were up 10.7% and stock sales increased 16.4%
compared to last year.
US lumber prices fluctuate wildly
Softwood lumber prices fell 30% over the last two
weeks of January, only to spring back to their
previous levels in early February. Business Insider
reported that lumber hit a low of U$934 per thousand
board feet on 1 February. That was down from
US$1,338 as recently as 14 January. That slump was
the softwood lumber industry¡¯s longest since July,
The slump was a prospect of a cooling housing
market tied to higher mortgage rates and ongoing
supply-chain issues. Part of the decline has been
attributed to rising mortgage rates, which some
industry experts say will lead to a slowdown in home
The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased 50
basis points to 3.55% between late December 2021
and late January, according to Freddie Mac. The
Mortgage Bankers Association projects that the rate
will climb to 4% by the end of 2022.
But after the brief cool off, softwood lumber futures
rose for each of the first sixth sessions of February
Wednesday, hitting US$1,204.90 per thousand board
feet on February 9.