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Softwood sales stable above 3 million m3 per annum

Sales of sawn softwood remained above 3 million cubic metres for most of the 2016-17 financial year, with sales totalling 3,066,230 m3 for the full year. Sales were 1.9% higher than a year earlier, underscoring both the strength of the market and the prospect that domestic capacity is close to full utilisation.

As the chart below shows, sales of domestically produced sawn softwood has been relatively flat for more than a year, but has consistently been at or close to the peak recorded in March 2017. So much so that despite the modest dip down over the last few months, there is no particular indication that the market has turned down.


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

In some respects, the stability in softwood sales was to be expected. The plateau that annual sales have reached and on which they continue to operate, is a function of the robust residential dwelling construction market. As this edition of Statistics Count makes clear, the boom of approvals and commencements may have ended, but there is a long tail of building activity still to flow through the market.

Moreover, while dwelling approvals declined 7.7% for the year-ended June 2017, the fall in free-standing dwellings and town-house approvals – the main users of sawn softwood products – was far softer.

This can be observed in the chart below, which demonstrates that sales of the main structural softwood products continue to grow.


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

The largest sales volume continues to be the untreated Structural <120 mm, sales of which rose 1.37% for the year-ended June, totalling 752,023 m3. It is joined by its dimensional cousin, the Treated Structural <120 mm, sales of which rose 5.34% compared with the prior year and totalled 646,813 m3.

To be consistent, it is important to note that the larger dimension (>120 mm) structural products – both untreated and treated – experienced solid declines of 7.90% and 11.15% respectively over the same period, though both on much smaller volumes. 

The pie-chart below shows the influence of the untreated and treated structural sawn softwood products, compared with all of the other products combined, for the 2016-17 financial year. The chart makes it plain – half of Australia’s sawn softwood is dedicated to the nation’s structures, and most of them are houses and townhouses.


Sustained by the underlying vigour of the Australian free-standing housing market, sales of the structural grades of sawn softwood are continuing apace. There probably has to be an end to that, but it is not easy to pick when that might be.


Posted Date: September 4, 2017

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