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New Zealand log trade sees softwood exports down 0.9% in October but up 7.4% year-ending

New Zealand’s softwood log exports are focussed primarily on supply to China, with total exports for the year-ended October 2023 totalling 21.430 million m3, exported at a deteriorating average annual price of NZDFob150.06/m3. The weighted average price was 13.6% lower over the last year, compared with the prior year.

The price deterioration of the last year can be observed in the chart below, which also shows that in October, monthly exports totalled an on-trend 1.979 million m3, exported at an average price of NZDFob144.64/m3.

New Zealand Softwood Log Exports: Jan ’21 – Oct ‘23 (‘000 m3 and NZDFob/m3)

Source: Statistics NZ and IndustryEdge

New Zealand’s extensive log exports continue to be balanced at around 75/25 when considered from a size perspective. Logs >15cm SED routinely account for three-quarters of the total, with the remainder <15 cm SED. So it was in October, with logs >15cm totalling 1.527 million m3 (77.2% of the total) and those <15 cm totalling 0.452 million m3 (22.8% of the monthly total.

The second chart displays this scenario clearly but serves to demonstrate a more important point. As the price of larger dimension logs has stumbled, its fall has been arrested by the smaller dimension logs.

New Zealand Softwood Log Exports by Size: Jan ’21 – Oct ‘23 (‘000 m3 and NZDFob/m3

Source: Statistics NZ and IndustryEdge

A new symmetry has been reached with New Zealand softwood log export prices. That is, since the end of 2022, the weighted average price for softwood log exports has been largely the same, regardless of dimension, as the table below shows.

There could be plenty of argument about appropriate size reporting through the trade system, but the incontrovertible fact is that for the year-ended October 2023, the total value of exports was 7.2% lower than it was a year earlier. At NZD3.216 billion, this is still a huge trade, but that 7.2% decline was worth almost exactly NZD250 million, and that is very serious business!

NZDFob/m3 <15 cm >15 cm Differential
Nov-22 192.73 169.72 -13.6%
Dec-22 158.99 150.68 -5.5%
Jan-23 161.68 165.05 2.0%
Feb-23 163.03 170.33 4.3%
Mar-23 178.21 178.63 0.2%
Apr-23 152.92 163.41 6.4%
May-23 142.39 144.96 1.8%
Jun-23 125.22 127.43 1.7%
Jul-23 124.25 126.72 2.0%
Aug-23 142.21 148.45 4.2%
Sep-23 148.96 147.40 -1.1%
Oct-23 141.65 145.53 2.7%
Posted Date: December 14, 2023

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