"Western Lumber Production Dropped Slightly in 1998, Product Prices Fell as Much as 20 Percent"

“Lower lumber prices and increased competition in the market helped to push 1998 western lumber production slightly lower, according to the final totals just published by the Western Wood Products Association.WWPA released its final industry figures for 1998 following its annual survey of over 300 mills in 12 western states and Alaska.Lumber production in the west totaled 16.49 billion board feet in 1998, according to the WWPA, down 1- percent form 1997 volumes. It was the first time since 1995 that annual production was lower than the previous year, the association said.The decline came in spite of an increased U.S. lumber demand, which topped a record 52.21 billion board feet in 1998. Poor export markets for lumber – particularly in Japan – helped keep more lumber in the U.S., adding to domestic supplies. Lumber imports, mostly from Canada, increased 3.8 percent to 18.69 billion board feet, an all-time high.The increase in supplies put downward pressure on lumber prices. Some product prices fell by as much as 20 percent from 1997 levels, according to WWPA, with many western mills facing difficulties competing for customers in 1998.Oregon remained the top lumber-producing state in the west and in the nation, with sawmills cutting 5.49 billion board feet at an estimated wholesale value of $1.91 billion, according to WWPA figures.Washington was the number 2 lumber producing state with 3.91 billion board feet valued at $1.37 billion. California was third with 3.19 billion board feet valued at $1.4 billion.Combined, the three states accounted for over three-fourths of the region’s lumber production, the WWPA said.Production and estimated wholesale values for other western states were:Idaho, 1.91 billion board feet, $714 million;Montana, 1.3 billion board feet, $474 million;Wyoming, 214 million board feet, $80.1 million;South Dakota, 154 million board feet, $53.6 million;Colorado, 88 million board feet, $29 million;New Mexico, 87 million board feet, $30.2 million;Arizona, 78 million board feet, $27 million; andUtah, 67 million board feet, $22.7 million.Nevada’s total volume was small, and was included in association figures for California.For the first time, WWPA collected lumber production statistics for Alaska. According to the association’s survey there, Alaskan lumber production totaled 78.9 million board feet in 1998.Western Wood Products Association tracks industry performance and lumber-related economic trends, and represents lumber manufacturers in 12 western states.”