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Softwood packaging timber sales stable, but declining

Sawn softwood packaging grade sales totalled 616,404 m3 year-ended February 2024, down 8.2% on the previous year’s volume. Some packaging grades are reported to be in the small but currently growing exports of sawn timber.

Annual imports stable at $19.0 million year-ended February 2024

Imports of timber pallets and other packaging made from timber were valued at AUDFob19.038 million year-ended February 2024, down 31.2% on the prior corresponding period.

In February, imports were valued at AUDFob1.974 million, down 0.2% on February 2023. The data suggests imports are flattening out, at a level around double that prior to the middle of the pandemic in mid-2021.

Unfortunately, import data is only available by value, with no volume data reported. The chart shows the value of monthly imports, and in total, on an aggregate basis.

Timber Packaging Imports by Grade: Jan ‘18 – Feb ‘24 (AUDFob Million)

Source: ABS and IndustryEdge


We were recently advised that some packaging product prices have moderated since the middle of 2023, suggesting there is more product being imported.

AUDFob Million Packing Cases, Boxes, Crates and Drums Pallets and Load Boards Total
YE Feb ’23 $21,199,354 $6,453,954 $27,653,308
YE Feb ’24 $13,389,725 $5,648,418 $19,038,142
% Change -36.8% -12.5% -31.2%

Although now bested by mainland China, Bahrain continues to lead Australia’s timber packaging imports, recording AUDFob5.4 million of imports over the last year, with the Chinese contribution lifting to AUDFob5.6 million.

Timber Packaging Imports by Country Jan ’20 – Feb ‘24 (AUDFob)

Source: ABS and IndustryEdge

AUDFob Bahrain Brazil China (Mainland) Germany New Zealand Turkiye Other
YE Feb ’23 $9,928,933 $1,042,759 $7,240,112 $1,646,204 $2,812,459 $2,521,223 $2,461,618
YE Feb ’24 $5,363,971 $983,437 $5,595,035 $1,231,277 $2,181,105 $1,108,251 $2,575,066
% Change -46.0% -5.7% -22.7% -25.2% -22.4% -56.0% 4.6%
Proportion (%) 28.2% 5.2% 29.4% 6.5% 11.5% 5.8% 13.5%


On the other side of the Tasman, New Zealand’s imports of timber packaging were down 7.6% year-ended February, declining to NZDFob21.1 million.

This was however a huge lift on the annual result for the prior month, thanks entirely to an NZDFob10.9 million importation of wooden casks and barrels in February, which continued a trend of significant barrel imports in the early part of each year, just prior to the main harvest of cool climate white wine grapes.


Plastic import value continues to climb: +17.1% year-ended February

‘Plastic’ equivalents for timber pallets and related materials saw imports rise 17.1% to AUDFob230.3 million year-ended February 2024. This packaging material is specifically pallets, cases, crates and boxes. No other plastics are included, so these are the closest approximation we can provide of timber packaging.

Plastic Packaging Imports by Grade: Jan ‘20 – Feb ‘24 (AUDFob Million)

Source: ABS and IndustryEdge

AUDFob Plastic Styrene & PVC Ethylene & Polyethylene Other Plastics Total
YE Feb ’23 $10,662,280 $4,171,530 $79,948,427 $101,840,855 $196,623,092
YE Feb ’24 $11,313,394 $3,507,718 $106,759,268 $108,694,729 $230,275,108
% Change 6.1% -15.9% 33.5% 6.7% 17.1%
Posted Date: May 5, 2024

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