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Mahogany prices rise with increased shipping costs

Mahogany

The mahogany market suffers from shipping issues and resulting price hikes, according to hardwood dealers interviewed by Woodshop News.

Rocky Mehta of West Penn Hardwoods in Conover, N.C. says the supply of genuine mahogany is very tight for many reasons, most notably the pandemic shutting down mills or leaving them with too few employees. Prices have surged and wait times continue to be prolonged, yet it’s still in demand.

“It’s very ironic and surprising that everybody still wants to wait and will pay more money. It’s unbelievable the customers are complaining but they’re still buying,” says Mehta.

A portion of his customers opt for sapele, but it too has supply chain issues causing prices to creep up. He notes that one of the shipping lines he relied on from the Douala port in Cameroon recently cancelled all direct shipments to the U.S.

“The biggest problem is shipping container cost and availability,” says Mehta. “There are times we are told that 40’ containers are no longer available, so that increases the cost of our shipping. And it’s already doubled or tripled, sometimes five times as much. Containers went from $4,300 to $7,400 and are now $9,600, and they are taking longer to arrive, sometimes three months or more.”

“We’ve found that so many of our customers have gone to walnut instead of mahogany,” says Lou Irion of Irion Lumber, a hardwood supplier in Wellsboro, Pa. “They’re two dark favorites and so our mahogany sales are down. We still carry it. We’re very particular about carrying a very dense grade of [genuine mahogany], but our sales are definitely off on it.”

Genuine mahogany is a trade name for Swietenia macrophylla, also known as Honduran, big-leaf or West Indian mahogany.

Doug White, owner of Doug White Hardwoods in Marissa, Ill., says higher prices have slowed sales of Honduran mahogany.

“Honduran prices started going up a couple years ago, and people don’t buy it like they used to. People use little pieces of it for accents on special box or something small. It’s good for outside projects. We did sell some of it a few months ago for a guy who’s building an outside kitchen,” says White.

Doug Newman of Newman Lumber, a wholesaler and importer in Gulfport, Miss., says consumers are leaning towards mahoganies and other imports in general lately to get more bang for their buck.

“Import species have always been higher in price. Domestics have risen in price so much, so rapidly, that the imports are a better value to the consumer. They’re a better wood and generally have a higher yield. If you’d only pay a few dollars more for mahogany over walnut, it’s not much of a stretch,” says Newman.

FAS 4/4 genuine mahogany was quoted at $12 to $15/bf. 

This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue.

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