- Libbey, Sean Stinchfield
University of Maine Graduate School
The United States represents the largest market for softwood sawlogs and pulpwood in the world. The goal of this research was to assess the effect of ten factors on the mill-delivered price of softwood sawlogs and pulpwood in nine states encompassing three distinct regions of the United States (North, South, and Pacific Northwest).
A survey of the factors affecting the delivered cost of softwood sawlogs and pulpwood and including questions relating to the procurement practices of timber buyers representing large buyers was performed to determine if significant regional variations exist. Eighty-one softwood timber buyers responded to a structured mail survey and the survey results were correlated with information gathered from a series of in-depth personal interviews conducted in each region. Each survey respondent provided details about the purchasing practices utilized to obtain the majority of their wood fiber. They also evaluated the importance and effect on price of ten key factors.
Timber buyers purchasing either sawlogs, pulpwood or both found competition, weather, timber availability, transport distance, and having a large number of suppliers as the top five most important factors determining delivered prices. Of the five most important factors, only having a large number of suppliers was shown to decrease the mill-delivered cost of wood for the majority of respondents in all regions. Investigation of the ten factors surveyed on a regional basis for each product category showed variations in responses about both the importance and the effect that the factors had on delivered price. Buyers in each region were found to be impacted by these factors, resulting in some diversity in procurement practices.
Understanding and interpreting each region's survey responses provides a nationwide picture of the forest products industry at the time of the study and illustrates those factors important in determining mill-delivered wood costs.