Wood products: consumers turkey stuffing

The price of wood has halved since March in Quebec, and yet prices remain the same in renovation centers.

Wood products: consumers turkey stuffing

The price of wood has halved since March in Quebec, and yet prices remain the same in renovation centers. What exactly is happening?

“Everyone is irritated. Wood, like everything else, continues to fluctuate, but it remains at a fairly high price,” notes Eric Côté, president and CEO of the Corporation des entrepreneurs général du Québec (CEGQ).

We know that the value of 2x4s has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, going from $1.50 to $9 in less than two years.

Same thing for plywood or 2 x 6, whose prices are still reaching highs today.

Fade in half

However, since March, the Pribec index has melted by more than half: from $1,900 to $800.

This is an index maintained by the wood industry lobby, the Quebec Forest Industry Council (CIFQ), which measures the composite price of some twenty products, from 2 x 3 to 2 x 6 through the 2 x 4.

"You have to ask the hardware stores, because all I can tell you is that the price of wood is half as much now as in March," said the president and CEO of the CIFQ, Jean-Francois Samray.

Profits multiplied by 50

Curious, this answer, when we know that Resolute Forest Products, one of the largest sellers of wood in Quebec, multiplied its profits by 50 from 2019 to 2020, for example.

“Sometimes the price is already high when the wood arrives at the hardware store. In the end, it's the contractors and the customers who pay the bill, and it's not always easy," says Eric Côté.

Same thing in the United States

The situation is no better on the other side of the border. The Journal made a trip to Vermont last week to try to see if prices are lower there.

Answer: not at all. We visited four hardware stores and two sawmills, where the prices are very similar to ours.

The place with the lowest prices is the Clifford Lumber sawmill, in the small town of Hinesburg. The 2 x 4 x 10, for example, retails for $8.25 US dollars (CA$10.65) per board.

“I raised my prices a bit more than usual this year because I have no choice. We've been in business for 100 years, we have to survive,” says Peter Gardner, the fourth generation of the family who owns the sawmill.

Big chains

He explains that he has trouble finding lots at good prices, and that competition from big chains like Lowe's and Home Depot is hurting him, even if they do not have the same customers.

"We try to survive as best we can, but it's clear that it's not the small sawmills that make money on the backs of the world," he says.

There is no doubt in his case: the timber multinationals are pocketing millions and millions right now.

Source: according to rates given to contractors, Rona, Home Depot, BMR, CANAC

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