Tropical hardwood imports hold steady - Canadian
imports rise sharply
After a strong recovery in March, US imports of sawn
tropical hardwood held steady in April, falling a modest
2% from March. At 9,457 cubic metres, volume is only
slightly more than half that of last April, which saw a
spike early in the pandemic.
Additionally, last April¡¯s numbers counted ipe and jatoba
imports, which are no longer included in the totals from
the beginning of 2021. Imports from Congo (Brazzaville)
were down 66%, while imports from Ecuador and Brazil
fell 11% and 16%, respectively.
Imports this year from Brazil, by far the largest supplier of
sawn tropical hardwood to the US in 2020, are down 83%
year to date through the first four months of 2021.
However, there is no single species that is significantly
down in volume. Teak imports fell by 77% in April and
are behind 24% year to date, yet cedro fell 21% in April
but is up 67% year to date, and acajou d¡¯Afrique imports
are ahead 22% year to date despite falling 22%.
While overall year to date imports are technically down
42% through April, nearly all of that loss is due to the
adjusted statistics. If ipe and jatoba imports are included
then US imports of sawn tropical hardwood are actually up
3% year to date through April.
Meanwhile, Canadian imports of sawn tropical hardwood
soared in April, gaining 79% over March to mark the
strongest month since October 2019. Thanks to the strong
monthly numbers, imports for the year to date climbed
virtually even with 2020 totals after a weak first quarter.
Imports of mahogany rose 20% and imports of iroko rose
30%, while imports of virola, imbuia and balsa more than
doubled. Imports from Congo (Brazzaville), the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Ghana
were all up sharply.
Hardwood plywood imports remain flat
The volume of US imports of hardwood plywood was
relatively unchanged for the second straight month, falling
by 1% in April. At 247,188 cubic metres, volume for the
month was 40% above that of the previous April and up
19% year to date. Imports from Russia and Vietnam were
both up by about 15% while imports from Indonesia were
Veneer imports gain but remain uneven
The value of US imports of tropical hardwood veneer
recovered somewhat in April, rising 38% from March, but
still only reaching about 75% of the numbers of the
previous April. Year to date imports are behind 2020 by
26% as month-to-month imports remain extremely
uneven, especially from Italy.
Imports from Italy were practically zero in March but then
rose more than 20,000% in April, to a level more than
50% above that of the previous April. Yet, year to date,
imports from Italy are down 32%.
Similarly, imports from India were up 408% in April, but
are still off by 54% year to date. More consistent trade has
come from Cote d¡¯Ivoire and Ghana, which were both
down slightly in April but are ahead 86% and 29%,
respectively, year to date.
Hardwood flooring imports cool
The value of US imports of hardwood flooring fell 17% in
April, pulling back from a strong March. Despite the
decline, imports were still more than 30% higher that
April 2021 and are up 29% year to date. Imports from
Brazil fell 17% in April but remain up by 168% year to
Conversely, imports from Indonesia gained 5% in April,
but are far behind last year¡¯s totals, down 74% year to
date. Imports from China are also plunging, falling 46% in
April and off by 29% year to date.
Imports of assembled flooring panels continued their rise
in April, moving up 9% from March. Imports from China
rose 65% in April while imports from Thailand rose 58%
and imports from Indonesia moved up by 24%.
Overall imports are up 48% year to date, with year to date
totals from China up 73% and totals from Indonesia and
Vietnam both more than double their totals through the
first four months of the year.
Moulding suppliers change while imports remain
While the value of US imports of hardwood mouldings
remained steady in April, rising 1%, imports from Brazil
and China continued their downward path. Imports from
Brazil fell 87% in April to its lowest level in more than a
decade, while imports from China fell 58%, also to a
Imports from China are now down 49% year to date, while
imports from Brazil are behind last year 33% year to date.
The benefactors from this decline appear to be Canada,
Malaysia, and various other supplying nations. Imports
from Canada rose 5% in April and are up 30% year to
date. Imports from Malaysia rose 10% in April and are
ahead 7% year to date. Overall imports are up 10% year
US wooden furniture imports dip slightly
The value of US imports of wooden furniture fell 2% in
April. Despite the dip, the monthly total of over US$2
billion was more than 66% above that of April 2020.
While imports from most countries stayed relatively
steady, imports from Canada fell 10% in April while
imports from Indonesia grew by 17%. Overall imports are
up 45% year to date.
The US furniture market continues to roar along at a
strong pace, according to the latest Smith Leonard survey
of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors.
New orders in March 2021 were up 96% over March
However, that number may be misleading since many
businesses were partially shut down in March 2020 due to
the pandemic. A more meaningful assessment might be
that orders were 40% higher than that of March 2019, still
a very favorable comparison.
Cabinet sales slow in April
Cabinet sales have showed signs of slowing, in part due to
the labor shortage and rising home costs, according to the
Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association¡¯s (KCMA)
monthly Trend of Business Survey. Overall sales
decreased 14.5% in April compared to March. Custom
sales were down 10.3%, semi-custom sales down 16.1%,
and stock sales decreased 14.2%.
Despite the pullback, 2021 sales remain strong. Overall
year to date cabinet sales are up 18.8% when compared to
the same time period in 2020. Custom sales up 22.8%,
semi-custom sales increased 22.7% and stock sales
The April numbers skew high versus last years, as they
reflect the recovery from the height of the pandemic
lockdown. Participating cabinet manufacturers reported
an increase in overall cabinet sales of 46.8% for April
2021 compared to the same month in 2020. Custom sales
are up 65.8%, semi-custom increased 49.3%, and stock
sales increased 41.8%.