Lumber’s Towering Market
The soaring home-building market is delivering hefty profits to sawmill owners. Red-hot demand for lumber and plywood is sending prices for finished wood to new heights, as the pace of new construction outstrips U.S. wood output. Lumber futures delivery later this month ended Monday at a record $1,575.60 per thousand board feet, quadruple the usual price.
Mill owners cut production at the start of the pandemic, shutting down about 40% of North American capacity. Now, companies like Weyerhaeuser and Canfor are benefitting from a glut of cheap domestic pine trees and fierce competition for building products among home buyers and do-it-yourselfers. Mill operators say orders are stacked up into June. Surging prices haven’t dampened demand for finished wood, and builders and retailers including Lowe’s are passing the higher costs on to home buyers and shoppers.
Supply Chain Strategies
Automotive supply chains are swinging to scarcity mode. After decades of keeping inventories low to maximize efficiency and cut costs, auto makers like Volkswagen and General Motors are stockpiling parts and even building their own factories to ensure access to batteries and other components.
Supply-chain disruptions have been battering car makers. The volatility includes spikes in demand for passenger vehicles, semiconductor shortages that halted Ford pickup production lines and a February freeze that shut down a key U.S. resin refinery.
That closure crimped output of seat foam, bumpers and steering wheels, shutting production at several Toyota plants and prompting some suppliers to take the costly step of flying resin in from Europe.
The repercussions highlight the fragility of the global supply chain as businesses reevaluate long-held assumptions about just-in-time manufacturing and whether they can always get parts when they need them.
Supply Chain Strategies
Competition for Covid-19 vaccines risks undermining the fragile ties that make production of the lifesaving shots possible. Major vaccine producers depend on a web of cross-border supply chains and sparring among the countries that make the lion’s share of the shots could squeeze production just when it’s most needed.
The members of the so-called “Vaccine Club” of producers source ingredients for their vaccines primarily from other club members. The European Union and the United Kingdom have tangled over access to finished doses, and the U.S. and the U.K. have reserved most homemade shots for domestic use.
Restrictions like India’s recent move to temporarily halt vaccine exports could slow vaccination efforts and ricochet across pharmaceutical supply chains, especially for countries that produce the shots but don’t make key ingredients or supplies such as glass vials. Trade experts say boosting production is the best way to ease tensions.