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Local sawn softwood sales remain strong

Sales of locally produced sawn softwood products totalled 267,902 m3 in July 2018, down 1.6% on the prior July, but importantly, annual sales were 1.2% higher. Over the year-ended July, domestic sales totalled 3.169 million m3, just 37,000 m3 higher than for the year earlier.

As the chart below shows, year-end sales have been stable since late 2016, when they first topped the 3.100 million m3 mark on an annualised basis. The expectation is that local sales remain close to peak capacity.


To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

But it is by no means entirely clear that capacity has entirely peaked. Given the Morwell closure in late 2017 removed around 200,000 m3 of sawnwood output, production may have been expected to decline. The data shows that did not particularly occur, despite the usual market ‘blips’ that come with significant corrections.

So if aggregate volumes haven’t changed in the last year, it is of interest to see whether the grade make-up of local sales has changed at all, and if so, how.

As the chart below displays, the pattern of sawn softwood sales has altered over the two years ended July 2018.


To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

Grades or products that have experienced the largest sales declines are the somewhat loose ‘Export’ grade (down 34.8% over the year-ended July 2018) and Treated Structural >120 mm (down 31.3%). They were joined by Outdoor Domestic (down 8.5%) and Structural <120 mm (down 2.1%). The latter is now the second-largest sales grade behind its counterpart Treated Structural <120 mm.

The proportional representation of domestically produced sawn softwood sales is displayed below.


Marked in green, combined, the Structural grades accounted for almost exactly half of all sawn softwood sales (50.6%) over the year-ended July. This was moderately lower than the end of 2017 when the structural proportion was 51.9%.

Overall, sales of locally produced sawn softwood are stable. But recent market changes mean the sector appears to be under more pressure to provide the major product – Structural sawnwood.

It remains to be seen whether this is the area where imports are growing their share.

Posted Date: October 10, 2018

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