US softwood lumber producers lost ground last year, with export volumes shrinking by almost 5%. The biggest reductions were by Japan (-14.9%) and China (-29.2%).

Competition from domestic OSB resulted in plywood production falling by 361 million ft2 and exports declining by 16.2%. On the other hand, Canadian 2014 plywood exports to US grew by 31% over 2013.

Both the US and Canada’s OSB exports trended higher in 2014 through diversification to other markets. Both countries’ MDF ?exports also rose in 2014. Particleboard exports dipped in Canada (-6%), while US exports grew (+16%).

Despite last year’s disappointing export results, North American producers are committed to maintaining and expanding their offshore presence.

The greatest challenge to keeping an export presence is managing risk, both currency-related and geopolitical.