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Wood fibre costs increase for Western U.S. pulp mills

April 24, 2015 - Wood fibre costs for pulp mills in the U.S. South were substantially lower than the costs for pulp companies in the rest of the U.S. in the first quarter of 2015.

April 24, 2015  By Hakan Ekstrom/Wood Resources Int'l

Prices for softwood residual chips in the southern states were over 30 per cent lower than in the northeast, lake states and the northwest, according the latest issue of the North American Wood Fiber Review (NAWFR).

Pulplog and wood chip prices have held steady in Southern U.S. for the past 12 months at prices nearing 10-year highs. Sufficient supply of pulp logs and residual chips and steady production levels at the region’s pulp mills have contributed to a healthy fibre supply and demand balance.

With pulp mills generally able to build healthy wood inventories in the first quarter of 2015, and with a number of maintenance outages scheduled for the second quarter, the stage is set for a possible reduction in pulpwood pricing in some southern states in the near future.

Heavy snowfalls across the northeast, excluding the northern half of Maine, have created challenges for forest access and transportation during Q1 2015. Fibre inventories, particularly those of hardwood, remained short resulting in concerns over having sufficient supplies on hand to carry through the spring, when road weight limitations and mud season greatly diminish harvest levels. Pulplog prices in this region were slightly higher in Q1 2015, as compared the previous quarter.


Prices for both logs and chips in the lake states were up to record high levels as obtaining adequate fibre supplies remained a serious challenge in Q1 2015. Prices remained high despite the reasonable snow levels and standard temperatures.

In Q1 2015, wood chip prices in the U.S. northwest continued their upward trend that started in late 2013, reaching their highest levels in almost three years. In only the past 12 months, softwood chips prices have gone up 21 per cent. With the recent increases, this region had some of the highest wood chip prices in North America, reports the NAWFR (www.woodprices.com). With additional residual chips generated by increased lumber production in the coming months, it is likely that chip prices will decline later in 2015.

The North American Wood Fiber Review has tracked wood fibre markets in the U.S. and Canada for over 20 years and it is the only publication that includes prices for sawlogs, pulpwood, wood chips and biomass in North America. The 36-page quarterly report includes wood market updates for 15 regions on the continent in addition to the latest export statistics for sawlogs, wood pellets and wood chips.

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