Canfor Customer Update

Welcome to our latest edition of the Canfor Customer Update. Scroll down for the following articles:

  • North American Market Update
  • China Update
  • Canfor's Kootenay Mills Play Key Role in World's Tallest Wood Building
  • Softwood Lumber Agreement Update
  • New Product from Radium and Elko Mill

As always, I welcome and appreciate your feedback at any time, and it helps us identify the topics that are most important to you. Have a safe and happy balance of the summer.



Market Update

We are all well aware of the slow but steady recovery in US housing starts. I think some are a bit surprised by the strength in lumber prices this year, with relatively modest housing growth. We (and others) had predicted 1.2 million US starts this year, and at the mid-way point, we are still lagging behind that pace. We may get there by year's end, but if we do, it will be just barely.

So where is the pricing strength coming from? Have a look at the latest US consumption numbers below.

Wood Products Marketing
U.S. Softwood Lumber Consumption Continues to Trend Higher
We are now projecting a 48 billion consumption pace this year (based on April YTD data), a full 4 billion over last year. 
We are seeing extremely strong repair and remodel business, strong industrial business, and this is on top of the modest growth in housing. One other point to watch closely is that although the growth in housing seems to have moderated, the percentage of single family is gaining nicely. This has also been a boost to lumber consumption. Despite the surge in shipments from Canada this year, there does not appear to be any buildup of inventory. It appears that field inventory is very much in line with demand. 


China Update

The economy in China continues its rebound but the pace at which this is happening has been slightly more moderate than expected.

The overall trend of softwood lumber imports into China continues its upward trend as seen in the chart to the right. We are keeping a close eye on China’s imports from Russia, which have increased significantly and are reaching historical highs as we’ve never seen before. The devaluation of the Russian Ruble over the last few months has resulted in a dramatic reduction of costs versus other global producers. While there are several other suggested reasons for this increase, most notably, the devaluation of Russian currency, certainly, it’s something we will continue to watch closely.

Also, it confirms while North America has lost market share, the Chinese consumption of lumber continues to increase.





Canfor's Kootenay Mills Play Key Role in World's Tallest Wood Building

Canfor is proud to be a key supplier of the soon-to-be world’s tallest wood building that is currently under construction at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. We supplied the specialty lumber used for all of the wooden columns, used to hold up each floor, and one third of the lumber for the project's CLT panels. 

Canfor was the only lumber supplier able to provide the specific strength of lamstock to meet the demanding performance requirements for the new design’s wooden structural columns for the 18-storey project. This is thanks to the exceptional high-strength Douglas Fir/Larch fibre at our Elko and Radium mills, and the expertise we have at both operations to properly dry, surface and stress rate the specialty lamstock.

All lumber was shipped to our customer, Structurlam, in Okanagan Falls, BC, where it was converted into the specialty columns and CLT panels. From there it is shipped, floor by floor, to the job site on an almost daily just-in-time basis. The efficient assembly of the wooden floors is progressing very quickly, which can be seen clearly in the photos.

This project is very exciting to the industry and we are proud of our involvement as a key supplier. We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity with this leading-edge construction project to demonstrate that we have the fibre, the equipment and the expertise to be the supplier of choice to the fast growing mass timber construction industry.


Construction of the 18-storey tall wood building at UBC is progressing very quickly. These photos were taken one week apart on July 8, 15 and 22. Photo source: Seagate Structures Ltd.



Softwood Lumber Agreement Update

We’re now in the final three-months of the year-long standstill period that follows the expiry of the Softwood Lumber Agreement. Without a doubt, we’ll all learn soon what the near-term future will look like for softwood lumber trade between Canada and the United States.

We strongly believe that the former agreement was a good fit for both countries. It allowed for Canadian lumber producers to easily trade in the US market and the agreement also protected US lumber producers when prices reached low levels. We continue to be optimistic that the two countries can reach a new agreement that best meets the needs of lumber producers on both sides of the border, and look forward to having the future of softwood lumber trade resolved in the very near future.







New Product from Radium & Elko

Our finest DFL fibre from the Kootenay region is converted specifically into laminating stock (lamstock) which must meet stringent performance requirements. Our Radium and Elko mills now produce DFL lamstock for our customers who manufacture glued laminated timbers - commonly referred to as "glulam".

Used for glulam beams and posts, some product details include the following:

  • high-quality, FSC-certifiable Douglas Fir Larch RED fibre
  • kiln dried to strict moisture content and surfacing tolerances
  • available as standard L3 & Btr as well as custom MSR pre-rated grades for high performace applications
  • available in 8' to 20' lenths

If you have any questions about this new product, please contact Bob Smith, General Manager, Specialty Products Sales and Marketing at 1-604-661-5277 or

To enable our Specialty Products group to make new products like DFL lamstock and others that are tailored to our customers’ needs, we continue to make investments in these operations to improve their sawmilling, drying and finishing capabilities. Be it a superior appearance finish, a new size or grade to improve yield, or a unique strength attribute – our Specialty Products group is focused on delivering value to the fibre that adds margin to your business. We welcome the opportunity to discuss further with you – please contact Bob Smith.

 Our finest DFL fibre from the Kootenay region is converted specifically into lamstock (above), which meets stringent performance requirements and produced for our customers who manufacture glulam.