Forest Products

The following section provides information on Canadian forest products, including their production level and their market destination, and domestic and offshore markets.

Key Facts:

  • Canada is the fourth-largest forest product exporter in the world, meeting the needs of consumers in over 180 countries
  • Forest products account for 7% of Canada’s total exports
  • Canada’s three largest export destinations are the United States (US), China, and Japan, which represent 87% of all forest product exports
  • Forest products can be categorized into four segments: solid wood products (which includes softwood lumber and structural panels), wood pulp (which includes northern bleached softwood kraft pulp [NBSK]), paper products (including newsprint, printing and writing paper), and bioproducts (e.g. biofuels, biochemical, bioplastics)
 

Global quick facts

  • Canada is the world leading exporter and the second-largest producer of softwood lumber, with British Columbia representing 63% of exports.
  • Canada is the second-largest exporter of wood pulp, since being overtaken by Brazil in 2016. China is the world’s largest importer of wood pulp and accounts for 44% of Canada’s wood pulp exports.
  • Although softwood lumber accounts for $10.4 billion in export value, wood pulp is a close second, with an export value of $7.8 billion in 2017.
  • Canada is the leading global producer and exporter of newsprint, and Quebec accounts for 65% of Canada’s total newsprint exports.
  • The US is Canada’s primary destination for printing and writing paper exports, accounting for 88%. Quebec produces more than half of all printing and writing paper made in Canada.
  • Canada is the third-largest producer and second-largest exporter of structural panels. The US is Canada’s major destination for structural panel exports (93%), the majority of which are oriented strand board (97%).
Canada’s Position in the World: Product Overview
Product

 
Canada’s world rank for production (2016, by quantity) Canada’s world rank for apparent consumption (2016, by quantity) Canada’s world rank for exports (2017, by value) Canada’s top export markets (2017, by value)
Softwood lumber 2 4 1 United States, China, Japan
Northern bleached softwood kraft market pulp 1 7  1 China, United States, Japan
Packaging 17 17 7 United States, China, Italy
Printing and writing paper 8 12 8 United States, Mexico, Germany
Newsprint 1 15 1 United States, India, Brazil
Oriented strand board 2 2 1 United States, Japan, China
Plywood 9 4 7 United States, United Kingdom, Australia
Household and sanitary paper 11 11 6 United States, United Kingdom, Turkey
Logs (industrial) 4 4 2 China, Japan, South Korea
Dissolving pulp 5 14 4 India, Indonesia, China
Wood pellets 2 16 2 United Kingdom, United States, Japan
Hardwood lumber 12 9 4 United States, China, Japan
Recovered paper 16 28 8 China, United States, South Korea

Exports of Canadian forest products (2017)

Forest industry graph
Text version

This graph displays share of exports in 2017 of softwood lumber, newsprint, structural wood panels, printing and writing paper, wood pulp, and other. Softwood lumber and the “others” category, which represents over 400 categories of products, comprise the greatest share of exports at 29% each, followed by wood pulp at 23%.

 
Top 10 forest product exports for Canada, 2017
Ranking Product Exports
1 Softwood lumber 10.44
2 NBSK (northern bleached softwood kraft) 4.75
3 OSB (oriented strand board) 2.34
4 Packaging 2.11
5 Printing and writing paper 2.06
6 Newsprint 1.98
7 Builders joinery and carpentry 1.53
8 Mechanical pulp 1.42
9 Semi-chemical pulp 1.41
10 Softwood logs 0.83
- Other 6.79

Softwood lumber

Softwood lumber refers to harvested coniferous timber that is sawed into dimension lumber, appearance-grade lumber, machine stress rated lumber, softwood boards and other sawn-timber products.

Dimensional softwood lumber products are used mostly for framing purposes in residential construction, and therefore market trends are often closely aligned with housing construction in the US, especially with single family dwellings.

Softwood lumber accounts for 29% of the value of Canada’s forest product exports.

The US accounts for 75% of the value of Canada’s softwood lumber exports.

Softwood lumber exports are expected to remain dependent on demand from the US housing market. However, market development efforts are expanding the opportunities for Canadian softwood lumber products in both offshore and domestic markets.

Find out about Canada’s softwood lumber data:

Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
Rank Country Percentage of world production (%)
1 United States 16.6
2 Canada 14.4
3 China, mainland 10.3
4 Russia 10.2
5 Germany 6.3
All others - 42.2
Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
Rank Country Percentage of world value (%)
1 Canada 30.5
2 Russia 13.9
3 Sweden 11.6
4 Finland 7.7
5 Germany 6.4
All others - 29.9
Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Softwood lumber Volume (m3) Value (C$)
Production 66,860,400
Consumption 24,512,010
Exports 43,142,554 10,440,909,872
Imports 794,164 219,677,281
Top export markets, 2017
Top export markets, 2017
Rank Country Value (C$)
1 United States 7,828,956,052
2 China 1,097,401,251
3 Japan 806,126,177
4 Philippines 112,110,776
5 Taiwan 100,787,168
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017
Province
 
Share of total value of exports (%) Top export markets Export market value (ranked by top markets by province) (C$)
British Columbia 63.4 United States 4,158,187,222
China 1,065,888,860
Japan 738,057,849
Quebec 14.0 United States 1,436,744,462
Mexico 7,266,686
Pakistan 6,060,183
Alberta 9.7 United States 897,463,928
Japan 67,095,882
China 27,870,828
Ontario 5.9 United States 608,038,350
Trinidad and Tobago 872,925
Mexico 642,833
New Brunswick 4.9 United States 507,934,219
Iraq 164,108
China 163,651
Nova Scotia 1.2 United States 122,108,932
Pakistan 2,360,447
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 343,509
Saskatchewan 0.9 United States 89,552,525
Taiwan 15,172
Newfoundland and Labrador 0.1 United States 6,227,887
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 4,183
Manitoba 0.0 United States 2,693,919
Russia 855,841
China 221,415
Prince Edward Island 0.0 United States 4,608

Softwood lumber prices

Softwood lumber prices have been rising steadily since 2016 and recently reached a 10-year high (US$, see the yellow line in the figure) because of factors affecting both demand and supply. The steady recovery in the US housing market from the global economic recession of 2008–09 has resulted in strong demand for softwood lumber, driving prices upward. At the same time, the effect of the mountain pine beetle on British Columbia’s lodgepole pine trees has reduced the size of the Canadian timber harvest. This reduction has limited the ability of Canadian lumber producers to respond to rising demand, also putting upward pressure on prices. Canada provides about one third of the US softwood lumber market. Since 2017, another effect on prices has been the countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed by the US on imports of softwood lumber products from Canada.

Since 2013, the Canadian dollar has been weaker than the US dollar, causing the price in Canadian dollars (see the blue line in the figure) to diverge.

Weekly lumber prices in North America, 2008–2018

Forest industry graph

Note: Random Lengths composite prices in US dollars, converted to Canadian dollars based on exchange rates posted by the US Federal Reserve.

Text version

This line graph displays the weekly lumber composite prices in North America, in US dollars and in Canadian dollar equivalent, between 2008 and 2018. On average, both prices experienced a slow increase over these years, ranging between 150 and 750 dollars per thousand board feet.

 

Wood pulp

Wood pulp is a fibrous material that can be broken down either mechanically or with the use of chemicals. Pulp is used as an intermediate product to produce paper, packaging, hygiene, and textile products. The main wood pulp products in Canada include:

  • Northern bleached softwood kraft pulp (NBSK)
  • bleached chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp (BCTMP)
  • commodity and specialty dissolving pulp 

Dissolving pulp produced around the world is exported mostly to China, where it is used to produce non-paper materials, including rayon fabric. Dissolving pulp is also used as food thickeners and paint additive.

Canada is the leading global producer and exporter of NBSK, with 40% of global NBSK production capacity. NBSK is used primarily to produce printing and writing papers and tissue.

China is Canada’s top export destination, accounting for 44% of the value of Canada’s wood pulp exports.

Find out about Canada’s wood pulp data:

Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
 
Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
Rank Country Percentage of world production (%)
1 United States 27.6
2 Brazil 10.8
3 Canada 9.5
4 Sweden 6.5
5 Finland 6.1
All others - 39.5
Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
 
Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
Rank Country Percentage of world value (%)
1 Brazil 17.9
2 Canada 17.0
3 United States 15.2
4 Chile 7.2
5 Indonesia 6.7
All others - 36.0
Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Wood pulp Volume (tonnes) Value (C$)
Production 17,080,000
Consumption 7,635,155
Exports 9,929,061 7,820,741,195
Imports 484,216 271,083,162
Top export markets, 2017
 
Top export markets, 2017
Rank Country Value (C$)
1 China 3,442,457,865
2 United States 2,295,146,099
3 Indonesia 474,412,617
4 Japan 366,330,869
5 South Korea 365,330,011
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017

 
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017
Province

 
Share of total value of exports (%)
 
Top export markets
 
Export market value
(ranked by top markets by province) (C$)
British Columbia 44.4 China 2,091,001,000
United States 346,231,000
Indonesia 267,412,000
Alberta 19.6 United States 696,126,000
China 530,853,000
South Korea 90,084,000
Quebec 16.6 United States 626,291,000
China 388,002,000
South Korea 82,525,000
New Brunswick 7.6 United States 219,219,473
India 142,862,200
Indonesia 92,261,257
Ontario 5.3 United States 377,514,511
Mexico 26,989,972
China 4,318,492
Saskatchewan 3.6 China 237,670,347
Indonesia 44,068,214
South Korea 68,176
Nova Scotia 2.9 China 148,420,438
Indonesia 30,793,380
United States 29,709,328

Wood pulp prices

NBSK pulp prices had been fairly stable until 2017–2018 when they started increasing. Today, NBSK pulp prices remain higher than they have been over the last decade.

China has been the biggest driver of the pulp markets over the last 20 years and continues to be Canada’s major export destination.

The rise in pulp prices seen over the last year or so has been a result of several unplanned shortages that continued into 2018. Market pulp prices are expected to rise over the next couple years because planned capacity expansions have not been confirmed and several mills have converted to producing dissolving pulp.

In 2013, the Canadian dollar weakened against the US dollar, causing the divergence in pulp price in Canadian dollars (see the blue line in figure).

Monthly US northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK) pulp prices, 2008–2018

Forest industry graph

Note: Brian McClay & Associates, Inc. pulp prices are in US dollars, converted to Canadian dollars based on exchange rates posted by the US Federal Reserve.

Text version

This line graph displays the monthly US northern bleached softwood kraft pulp prices, in US dollars and in Canadian dollar equivalent, between 2008 and 2018. On average, both prices experienced a slow increase over these years, ranging between 600 and 1,800 dollars per tonne.

 

Newsprint

Newsprint is made from thermomechanical pulp and is a relatively low-cost paper product. It is most commonly used in newspapers, flyers and catalogues. Newsprint is best used in short-life applications.

Newsprint is typically manufactured in integrated facilities, where the pulp and newsprint are made at the same site. Newsprint pulp is made from several softwood species (e.g. black spruce and balsam fir).

Canada is the world’s largest producer of newsprint (14%) and the world’s largest exporter of newsprint (33.5%), with the majority of exports going to the United States.

Quebec leads Canada’s newsprint production and exports (65% of total value of exports) followed by Ontario (11%).

The rise of digital media has led to a structural decline in Canada’s newsprint (10% from 2016 to 2017). It is expected that the market for newsprint will continue to decline as consumers shift away from paper to electronic media.

Find out about Canada’s newsprint data:

Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
 
Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
Rank Country Percentage of world production (%)
1 Canada 14.0
2 Japan 12.1
3 China 11.0
4 Germany 7.4
5 United States 6.2
All others - 49.3
Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
 
Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
Rank Country Percentage of world value (%)
1 Canada 33.5
2 Russia 10.3
3 Sweden 8.2
4 Germany 6.8
5 France 6.4
All others - 34.8
Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Newsprint Volume (tonnes) Value (C$)
Production 3,350,000
Consumption 531,218
Exports 2,853,533 1,980,831,987
Imports 34,751 31,455,386
Top export markets, 2017
 
Top export markets, 2017
Rank Country Value (C$)
1 United States 1,232,470,060 
2 India 235,806,735 
3 Brazil 77,314,843 
4 United Kingdom 74,598,442 
5 Colombia 31,767,375
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017
 
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017
Province

 
Share of total value of exports (%)
 
Top export markets
 
Export market value
(ranked by top markets by province) (C$)
Quebec 65.0 United States 742,951,000
India 189,998,000
United Kingdom 74,587,000
Ontario 10.8 United States 196,009,853
India 10,748,404
Cuba 2,146,536
British Columbia 8.4 United States 51,625,000
Mexico 17,327,000
Taiwan 14,380,000
Alberta 6.3 United States 119,857,807
Taiwan 4,147,660
India 334,504
Newfoundland and Labrador 6.2 United States 88,270,142
India 14,334,914
Israel 3,795,817
New Brunswick 2.1 United States 33,705,336
China 7,094,661
South Africa 849,813
Nova Scotia 1.3 India 8,846,296
Mexico 6,928,494
Brazil 2,511,713
Manitoba 0.0 United States 37,870
Paraguay 36
Prince Edward Island 0.0 Turkey 25,378
Saskatchewan 0.0 Hong Kong 19,223

Printing and writing paper

Printing and writing paper is a high grade paper with a superior quality than newsprint. It can be produced by using both northern bleached softwood kraft and bleached chemi-thermo-mechanical pulps with at least 20% mechanical pulp.

Printing and writing paper is used to make a variety of office papers (e.g. for printers and photocopiers, bond and writing papers, envelopes, forms, pads of paper, and offset printing paper).

Canada is the eighth-largest producer and the eighth-largest exporter of printing and writing papers globally. The United States is Canada’s main export market, accounting for 88% of the nation’s total export value.

Similar to newsprint, the market for printing and writing papers is expected to continue declining (exports decreased 8.2% between 2016 and 2017).

Note: Canada ranks eighth and accounts for 3.0% of the global production of printing and writing paper.

Find out about Canada’s printing and writing paper data:

Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
 
Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
Rank Country Percentage of world production (%)
1 China 25.7
2 United States 14.4
3 Japan 8.1
4 Germany 6.6
5 Finland 5.2
All others - 40.0

Note: Canada ranks eighth and accounts for 3.0% of the global production of printing and writing paper.

Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
 
Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
Rank Country Percentage of world value (%)
1 Germany 12.4
2 Finland 11.0
3 China 8.1
4 Indonesia 7.4
5 Sweden 5.8
All others - 55.3

Note: Canada ranks eighth and accounts for 4.9% of the global exports value of printing and writing paper.

Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Printing and writing paper Volume (tonnes) Value (C$)
Production 3,000,000
Consumption 1,403,943
Exports 2,257,983 2,064,506,724
Imports 661,926 943,437,503
Top export markets, 2017
 
Top export markets, 2017
Rank Country Value (C$)
1 United States 1,810,155,966
2 Mexico 50,804,858
3 Germany 50,602,475
4 Turkey 18,402,750
5 United Kingdom 15,978,245
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017
 
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017
Province

 
Share of total value of exports (%)
 
Top export markets

 
Export market value
(ranked by top markets by province) (C$)
Quebec 57.1 United States 1,042,080,000
Germany 48,301,000
Turkey 18,170,000
British Columbia 18.7 United States 307,776,000
Mexico 29,687,000
Australia 8,983,000
New Brunswick 12.5 United States 254,053,295
China 3,497,125
Mexico 912,444
Nova Scotia 7.8 United States 128,505,110
Spain 11,882,727
Mexico 8,123,280
Ontario 3.8 United States 77,490,280
Mexico 1,206,973
India 174,729
Saskatchewan 0.0 United States 123,135
Mexico 33,567
India 2
Manitoba 0.0 United States 124,450
India 17,513
Alberta 0.0 United States 4,033
Australia 683
Cuba 170
Newfoundland and Labrador 0.0 France (incl. Monaco, French Antilles) 444
Greenland 200

Structural wood panels

Canada is the third largest producer of wood panels (5.2% of global production); while China is the world leader in panel production, accounting for over 62% of total global production.

  • Canada is the second-largest exporter of wood panels (11.9% of total global exports), most of which are exported to the United States (US; 93%). British Columbia and Alberta lead Canadian exports of structural panels, accounting for over 50% of the nation’s total structural panel exports. Similar to softwood lumber, the export market for structural panels is driven by the demand from the US housing market.

Structural panels include oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood.

Oriented strand board (OSB) quick facts:

  • OSB is an engineered structural panel that is made from strands of wood cut from small logs.
  • OSB is used mostly for load-bearing purposes in platform-frame-constructed buildings (e.g. single and multi-family housing). It is also used in wall sheathing, flooring and roofing and to make other products such as furniture and engineered wood products.
  • OSB dominates Canada’s structural panel export market, representing 96% of the structural panel export value.

Plywood quick facts:

  • Plywood is a structural panel made of several layers of thin veneers that are glued together.
  • Plywood is used mostly as wall, floor and roof sheathing because it provides great strength, stiffness and stability against moisture. Thicker plywood that has a particular surface treatment is used often to line concrete forms for concrete-based construction.

Find out about Canada’s structural wood panels data:

Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
 
Global ranking for production by volume, 2016
Rank Country Percentage of world production (%)
1 China 62.5
2 United States 11.5
3 Canada 5.2
4 Russia 2.4
5 Indonesia 2.0
All others - 16.4
Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
 
Global ranking for exports by value, 2017
Rank Country Percentage of world value (%)
1 China 32.2
2 Canada 11.9
3 Indonesia 11.0
4 Russia 7.1
5 Finland 4.1
All others - 33.8
Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Canadian trade indicators, 2017
Structural wood panels Volume (m3) Value (C$)
Production 9,864,000
Consumption 5,285,177
Exports 6,607,480 2,440,289,641
Imports 2,028,657 592,760,143
Top export markets, 2017
 
Top export markets, 2017
Rank Country Value (C$)
1 United States 2,279,514,874
2 Japan 59,222,104
3 China 26,513,630
4 Vietnam 15,811,411
5 South Korea 15,558,926
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017
 
Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province, 2017
Province
 
Share of total value of exports (%) Top export markets Export market value (ranked by top markets by province) (C$)
British Columbia 31.4 United States 630,186,383
Japan 59,165,756
China 26,263,277
Alberta 23.4 United States 568,978,732
Mexico 905,221
Japan 56,348
Ontario 17.8 United States 432,584,455
Bermuda 716,092
Mexico 161,742
Quebec 12.0 United States 273,406,410
South Korea 12,242,781
Chile 4,753,382
Saskatchewan 9.8 United States 238,699,057
South Korea 1,518,560
Manitoba 5.5 United States 134,125,420
Russia 162,533
Latvia 44,871
New Brunswick 0.1 United States 1,357,910
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 350
Nova Scotia 0.0 Netherlands 256,534
    United States 79,573
    Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 74,096
Newfoundland and Labrador 0.0 United States 45,905
Prince Edward Island 0.0 United States 36,407
Yukon 0.0 United States 14,622

Structural wood panel prices

Panel prices had been relatively stable before reaching a 10-year high in early 2018 (in US dollars, see the yellow line in the figure). The market remains tight as demand continues to outpace supply because of transportation interruptions and a reduced fibre supply (caused by the 2017 wildfires in British Columbia).

The divergence between the US and Canadian prices is due to changes in the exchange rate. Since 2013, the US dollar has been strong against the Canadian dollar, causing the blue line in the figure to diverge.

Weekly structural panel prices in North America, 2008–2018

Forest industry graph

Note: Random Lengths structural panels composite prices in US dollars, converted to Canadian dollars based on exchange rates posted by the US Federal Reserve.

Text version

This line graph displays the weekly structural panel composite prices in North America, in US dollars and in Canadian dollar equivalent, between 2008 and 2018. On average, both prices experienced an increase over these years, ranging between 200 and 750 dollars per thousand square feet.

 

Sources

Global Quick Facts (2017)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FAOSTAT Database (accessed July 13, 2018).

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

Trade Data Online. Statistics Canada (accessed July 13, 2018).

Canada’s position in the world

Global production by volume ranking, all products

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FAOSTAT Database (accessed July 13, 2018).

Global consumption by volume ranking, all products

Consumption figures calculated by Natural Resources Canada

Global exports by value ranking, all products

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

Top export markets

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

Share of exports by forest product

Statistics Canada. Merchandise trade data, monthly data (special extraction, April 25, 2018).

  • “Other” includes approximately 415 different product categories.

Top 10 forest product exports

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

FisherSolveTM. Fisher International Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

All forest products

Global production by volume ranking (all products)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FAOSTAT Database (accessed July 13, 2018).

Global exports by value ranking (all products)

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

Canadian trade indicators (all products)

Production (national)

Softwood lumber: Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 303-0064: Lumber production, shipments and stocks, by Canada and provinces (accessed March 20, 2017).

Wood pulp, newsprint, printing and writing paper, and structural panels: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FAOSTAT Database (accessed July 13, 2018).

Consumption (national)

Consumption figures for all products, calculated by Natural Resources Canada.

Exports (by value and volume) (national)

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

Imports (by volume and value) (national)

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

Top Canadian export markets by value rankings (all products)

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

Top export markets and share of total value by province (national and provincial) (all products)

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed July 13, 2018).

Trade Data Online. Statistics Canada (accessed July 13, 2018).

Prices

Random Lengths. Weekly prices for composite lumber and structural panel composite in North America (accessed July 13, 2018). Used with permission granted by the publisher.

Brian McClay & Associates, Inc. Monthly US northern bleached softwood kraft pulp prices (accessed July 2018). Used with permission granted by the publisher.

US Federal Reserve. Prices listed in US dollars converted to Canadian dollars. (accessed July 13, 2018).