Mississippi-based American Log Handlers (ALH) is now exporting southern yellow pine logs to China through JAXPORT’s Blount Island and TraPac Marine Terminals. The logs are used in China as lumber, mostly in forming frames used to mold concrete for housing structures.

ALH expanded to Northeast Florida in November 2013 by establishing a log yard in Yulee, Fla., creating 15 new direct jobs for the region. The company purchases logs from yellow pine timberland owners in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, and debarks the logs at the yard before shipping them to China in 40-foot-long containers through JAXPORT’s terminals.

“Our new presence in Northeast Florida allows us to purchase logs locally that are too big to be processed by area ‘Chip N Saw’ mills and historically would have been trucked more than 100 miles to mills that could handle the size,” said American Log Handlers President Leigh B. Allen. “It’s a win-win. We’ve got a good business and the timberland owners have a new and better market for their timber.”

ALH sells the logs to Massachusetts-based International Forest Products LLC, which exports the cargo through JAXPORT via Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, China Shipping Container Lines Co. Ltd. and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

“The proximity of the port to the Yulee yard and the multiple Asian carriers that call on JAXPORT make it easy and cost-effective for us to move the cargo quickly,” said Charles Cunnion, Manager of Transportation and Logistics at International Forest Products LLC.

Yellow pine lumber, a renewable resource, is used to build nearly 1 million homes in the United States each year. The housing market crash and subsequent drop in new housing starts created a surplus of the commodity, which - along with a decrease in supply to China from other areas of the world - make it a prime export product.

“The world’s top three pine exporters to China - Russia, Canada and New Zealand, which supply approximately 90 percent of the commodity - are no longer able to keep up with the demand due to limited growing space, or export limitations set by the country’s government regulators or their own infrastructure needs,” ALH’s Allen said. “The Southeastern United States is essentially the last great untapped wood basket in the world for international trade.”

The new business underscores JAXPORT’s focus on significantly expanding its forestry product imports and exports during 2014.

“There is a great demand for forestry commodities - logs, lumber, wood chips, wood pellets and wood pulp - which are used in a variety of consumer products around the world,” said JAXPORT Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Roy Schleicher. “JAXPORT is well positioned to handle this cargo with our extensive warehouse space, great access to rail and interstate connections and ocean carriers servicing all the major trade lanes.”