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The Final Word by Chuck Swann
Peter J. Stewart founded the Forest2Market analytic and consulting firm in 2000. Based on a business model of collecting transaction data (timber sales contracts, scale tickets, orders and invoices), F2M aggregates the data collected, reports market prices, provides cost and performance benchmarks and supply chain analytics. For the year 2017, he offers the following predictions.

1. US pulp and paper producers will experience some uplift as the economy improves, but exports will remain challenged by a strong dollar. Industry consumption remains strong and if US GDP improves, the pulp and paper industry will have a good year.

2. Domestic long fiber (conifer) supply will remain tight, keeping prices elevated. US demand for packaging, fluff pulp, tissue and consumer-oriented paper products will remain strong.

3. Expect Canadian lumber imports to remain robust, challenging Pacific Northwest producers and moderately affecting US South producers.

4. Domestic lumber markets will show signs of life, but the housing recovery (1.1 to 1.3 million starts) will continue to be muted as millennial buying behavior fundamentally changes the market structure.

5. Pellet investment in the US will slow to a crawl.

6. Brazil's economy improves and the domestic forest products industry rebounds. Exports of pulp and plywood remain strong.

7. Sawmill consolidation continues in Sweden as Swedish operators try to remain competitive worldwide. A strong US dollar will allow them to reach East Coast markets profitably.

8. Biofuels, biochemicals and domestic biomass projects are stymied--until the new administration weighs in. It is still too early to tell anything for certain at this point.

Chuck Swann is Senior Editor of Paperitalo Publications.

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