Billion Board Foot Club 2018

Steady Growth for Many Companies, but Headwinds Evident

The annual FEA Canada’s “Billion Board Foot Club” list of top global lumber companies showed further gains in production by those companies making the threshold.

As it has since 2007, West Fraser is the world’s largest softwood lumber producer: in 2018, the company produced 6.6 billion bf.

The Billion Board Foot list is based on companies with reported softwood lumber production exceeding one billion board feet (bf) on a nominal basis (or, for mills outside North America, in excess of ~2.3 million m3 on a net count basis). Fifteen firms made the list with a combined output of 36.7 billion bf nominal (61.9 million m3 net) in 2018, an increase of 1.1 billion bf from 2017’s 35.6 billion bf (+3.1%). This compares to total global lumber production of 223 billion bf nominal in 2018 and growth of an estimated 8% as compared to 2017. In 2018, the global market share of the largest 15 sawmilling companies was near 16% – a slight decrease from 2017.

The top five global lumber producers include (in descending order): West Fraser, Canfor, Weyerhaeuser, Interfor and Georgia-Pacific.

Four of the top ten largest global firms are based in B.C. (West Fraser, Canfor and Interfor, with Tolko now having two U.S.-based joint venture mills), with all now holding substantial sawmilling assets in the U.S. Collectively, these four companies own 49 U.S.  sawmills (including joint-ventures) as compared to only 38 in Canada.

Of note, there are 4-5 European companies bubbling just below the billion-board-foot (2.3 million m3 net) threshold. As we indicate each year, most non-North American mills produce lumber that is sold on the actual (or net) size of lumber produced; their North American counterparts sell lumber on a nominal basis (e.g., 2×4 is actually 1.5″ x 3.5″). As a result, if the rankings are viewed on a cubic-metre, net-size basis, non-North American mills (in Europe and South America) have higher output in terms of solid wood – a more accurate basis on which to make comparisons.

The complete Billion Board Foot Club List and further analysis are available to subscribers of  WOOD Markets Monthly International Report.

Company representatives and speakers from the Billion Board Foot Club will be in attendance at the FEA Canada/WOOD MARKETS’ 9th Annual Global Softwood Log & Lumber Conference, to be held in Vancouver May 8-9, 2019.