With the demand for Ipe on the rise, saw mills are attempting to push the product out the door as fast as possible. However, with many factors in play, there is certainly an Ipe shortage on the horizon that lumber suppliers and customers alike must face quickly, considering possible alternatives.
The Ipe buying season typically starts in January, as many suppliers in America look to countries in South America early in the year to order the entire season’s worth of product. During the spring months, Ipe supply will be at its highest in America’s lumber yards. However, as the year goes on, the supply will decrease, and in turn, prices will certainly increase. This supply and demand must be taken into consideration when buying Ipe in March compared to later in November, when you are certain to see a price increase.
So, why exactly does Ipe come from South America in the early months? Well, mainly because South America’s rainy season tends to have an effect on Ipe supply. This year, in particular, the rainy season has lasted months longer than usual, meaning the Ipe supply is limited, and mills are behind schedule.
This production delay will be felt as Ipe is imported possibly after the busy deck-building seasons this year. Because of the delay, many suppliers are cancelling their orders, knowing that the product will be too late for this season, and their lumber yards simply can’t hold the product long term for a whole year until next spring.
Because of the cancelled orders, chances are this season’s Ipe will be mixed in with next season’s Ipe, which is certain to cause many inconsistencies in color and appearance, adding to the frustration of a product that already has a high price tag.
One more thing to take into consideration is the fact that many suppliers are now importing Ipe legally, which is certainly a good thing in the industry as a whole. However, the legal demand for Ipe rises as the supply is already dramatically reduced.
As prices rise, quality suffers, and supply is decreased, it is certain that lumber yards will feel the pressure as more and more customers begin considering alternatives to Ipe. If demand for Ipe significantly declines, however, this could then devalue the species which could mean a drop in value for the entire Ipe forest. The devaluing of the forest could eventually result in Ipe being cut down in order to clear the land for agriculture and building.
While the Ipe shortage is certainly one to be recognized in the near future, it is important to know that Ipe importation is not illegal and the wood is not endangered, so do not panic just yet. This Ipe predicament has been on lumber suppliers’ horizons for years, and hopefully from it, will come a better lumber market and a healthier rain forest (in the long run).
Ipe is still coming into the United States, and customers will still be able to order Ipe for their projects this season. While the product price may be higher, the demand will be greater, and the supply may decrease quicker, J. Gibson McIlvain Company has a dedicated mill in South America that will allow them to continue to import quality Ipe in many sizes. However, as prices rise and supply drops, it may be important to consider alternatives such as Cumaru or Jatoba decking options, which J. Gibson McIlvain Company certainly stocks in addition to Ipe.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums. Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.