Log exports above 5 million m3 per year

Australia’s log exports remained above 5 million m3 per annum for the second successive month in February, with exports totalling a new record 5.067 million m3. Source: IndustryEdge and Timberbiz

Softwood log exports continued to dominate, totalling 4.914 million m3 for the year and accounting for close to 97% of the total.

“Exports totalled about 449,000 m3 in February 2017, which was the highest level in seven months,” an IndustryEdge analyst said. “On top of the annual record, that is the fifth highest month of exports ever recorded. It really is an export boom time out there.”

Of the total 449,000 m3 of exports in February, 403,000 m3 were Softwood logs, exported at an average price of AUDFob126.25/m3. This was 5% lower than the prior February, but according to market analysts IndustryEdge the lower average price does not mean all Softwood log export prices are lower.

“Pricing dynamics changed in 2017, when the formal data started to separate prices for Softwood logs that were larger than 15 cm diameter, from those that were smaller than that.” IndustryEdge advised.

“Initially, there was no price difference, but pretty quickly, the market began to distinguish and export log prices – at least the recording of them – shows lower prices for smaller diameter logs.”

In February 2018, the average price of Softwood log exports <15 cm was AUDFob108.46/m3, down almost 20% from February 2017. At the same time the average price of exported Softwood logs >15 cm declined a very mild 0.3% to AUDFob131.49/m3.

“Larger dimension softwood logs – those more likely to be sawn or peeled – have shown very stable pricing once they were separated from the smaller diameter logs.” IndustryEdge said.

Hardwood log exports totalled 45,550 m3 in February, exported at an average price of AUDFob183.31/m3. Exports from Tasmania dominated, accounting for 24,336 m3, and continuing at the very low price of AUDFob117.18/m3. Since they commenced, the exports, which are primarily reported as leaving from the Port of Burnie, have routinely been by far the lowest priced hardwood logs exiting Australia.

“The price of Tasmania’s hardwood log exports appears to be little more than a pulpwood price. That probably reflects the end-use of the resource, but even at lower prices, that is not absolutely certain.” IndustryEdge commented.

Log trade data is analysed in IndustryEdge’s monthly publication, Wood Market Edge, which is available for subscription, and is also provided on a complimentary basis to subscribers to the monthly wood products trade data series, which includes Woodchip Export, Log Export and Sawnwood Import and Export data.

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