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Softwood log exports lift to five month high

Australia’s softwood log exports totalled a reported 112,523 m3 in December 2021, a five month high and a rise of 38% on the prior month. Export volumes remain volatile, dramatically below previous peaks and consequently, prices have also been very varied, but largely lower over the last year.

Since China imposed bans on the importation of Australian logs – among other products – in late 2020, exports have fallen away dramatically. Other countries have taken up some of the supply available from Australia, but none have done so with the same enthusiasm as the previous trade to China.

The chart here shows exports by grade and is a stark indicator of the radical differences between the former and current trade. In 2021, exports totalled 1.223 million m3, down 64% on 2020.

image043

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

 

The blue bars in the chart above show larger diameter (>15cm) pine logs. Not all sawlogs by any stretch, these larger dimension logs were the main victim of the Chinese bans, falling to almost zero in early 2021. More recently, they appear to have found some improved market, with sales in December of 78,240m3.

Albeit at lower average prices, the improved sales of larger dimension softwood logs appear to have stabilised the average export price, which in December 2021 was AUDFob116/m3, with the larger dimension logs anchoring that price by selling at AUDFob121/m3, for example.

For softwood logs, the major new markets have been In India, supported by something of a resurgence of the former trade to Korea.

It may be the softwood log market is a shadow of its former self – and there are different views about whether that is a good or bad thing – but it does appear to be approaching a kind of ‘new normal’, and if not that, then at least, some improved stability.

Posted Date: March 3, 2022

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