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Shifts in U.S. Hardwood Lumber Consumption

Photo of The percentage of hardwood lumber used in higher-value products has decreased in recent years. William Luppold, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.The percentage of hardwood lumber used in higher-value products has decreased in recent years. William Luppold, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : After the Great Recession, hardwood lumber consumption declined by 43 percent from the peak in 1999. The corresponding changes in consumption patterns have implications for hardwood lumber producers.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Luppold, William 
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1077

Summary

Since 1991, consumption of U.S. hardwood lumber has varied considerably. During the 1990s, domestic hardwood lumber consumption and hardwood lumber exports grew by 20 percent and 34 percent, respectively. These levels were sustained by a 4.8 million cubic meter increase in domestic production and a 1.0 million cubic meter increase in imports. The growth in domestic consumption occurred for both appearance-based products such as furniture and fixtures and industrial products such as pallets and railway ties. Hardwood lumber consumption peaked in 1999 and then started to decline because of the loss of U.S furniture manufacturing. This reduction was initially offset by the housing industry, but when home construction started to decline after 2006, consumption of appearance-based lumber dropped abruptly. In 2009, overall estimated consumption was 16.2 million cubic meters, a 43 percent decline from 1999. Domestic consumption by the hardwood market since 2006 is an anomaly compared with the last 50 years. In 2014, industrial users accounted for 51 percent of consumption, whereas appearance-based consumers accounted for 36 percent (“others” accounted for the remainder). Before 2006, appearance consumption normally approached or exceeded 50 percent of total consumption.