Intermediaries in the U.S. Hardwood Lumber Market: Comparing and Contrasting Sawmills and Distributors

Omar Espinoza, Urs Buehlmann, Matthew Bumgardner, Robert Smith


The objective of this study was to better understand changes in the hardwood lumber supply chain from the perspective of lumber producers and distributors and to assess the degree of judgmental convergence between suppliers and buyers of hardwood lumber. Results from two nationwide surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009 were used for the analysis. Findings confirmed a decline in demand for red oak and an increase in species diversity in the market, although a majority of sales were dominated by five species. Results also showed an increasing importance of markets for lower grades of lumber, such as pallets, containers, and railroad ties, and a decline in demand for higher-value products such as furniture and kitchen cabinets. The importance of the lumber distributor role in the hardwood supply chain also has increased. Both sawmills and suppliers have increased their offerings of customized products and services in response to market demand. The customer base is changing, with smaller, more customized orders being sold to smaller businesses. Some of the trends and changes identified are structural and long-running in nature and are not expected to change in the short term.


Hardwood lumber; Sawmill; Supply chain; Lumber yards; Distribution

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Welcome to BioResources! This online, peer-reviewed journal is devoted to the science and engineering of biomaterials and chemicals from lignocellulosic sources for new end uses and new capabilities. The editors of BioResources would be very happy to assist you during the process of submitting or reviewing articles. Please note that logging in is required in order to submit or review articles. Martin A. Hubbe, (919) 513-3022,; Lucian A. Lucia, (919) 515-7707, URLs:; ISSN: 1930-2126