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Log exports rose 26% in September – prices stable

Australia’s total log exports rose 25.6% in September, falling just 19m3 short of the 500,000m3 mark for the month. Compared with the prior month prices were stable at an average $153.10/m3 measured on a free-on-board basis. Source: IndustryEdge for Timberbiz

Despite the big lift in exports compared to the prior month, annualized exports were 1.8% lower over the year-ended September, totalling 4.935 million m3.

Behind aggregate exports, as the table below shows, exports of softwood logs were 6.2% lower over the year-ended September, than for the prior year. Regardless, at 4.202 million m3, exports are little short of booming.

Australian Log Exports by Species: YE Sep ’17 v YE Sep ’18 (m3 & %)

Source: ABS

On a state-by-state basis, IndustryEdge notes that exports from Victoria have been quite stable over the last year, averaging 186,184m3 per month, and recording 184,560m3 for September. Shipments from New South Wales are also quite stable, averaging 67,494m3 per month over the last year and generally operating in a tight band around that level.

It is exports from Queensland that will be of some interest. Over the year-ended September, softwood log exports from the Sunshine State have averaged 65,419m3 per month, but have risen as high as 128,598m3 in May 2018. They were back above the 100,000m3 mark in September, with exports totalling 102,973m3.

Queensland’s log exports, including both the quantity and price, will receive more detailed attention in the November edition of Wood Market Edge, which will be released to subscribers toward the end of the month.

In many respects, it is hardwood log exports that have gained some recent attention. Primarily this is because they have grown more than one-third over the last year, with exports totalling 0.733 millionm3 over the year-ended September.

The reason for the growth is straight-forward. Exports from Tasmania have increased from virtually nothing the prior year, to 428,403m3 over the year-ended September. Of this volume, some 73% was exported from the Port of Burnie, with exports from Hobart accounting for just over 20% of the total.

However, much attention may be focused on recent rises in hardwood log exports, the main focus will always return to softwood log exports. This is no surprise in a market where tight domestic supply and capacity constraints on the one hand are being met by rising sawnwood imports on the other hand.

For growers, processors and policy makers, log exports are a constant source of interest, both in the immediate term and the longer term.

Every month, IndustryEdge publishes Wood Market Edge, Australia’s only forestry and wood products market and trade analysis, and supplies its customers with hundreds of unique data products, advisory and consulting services.

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