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Woodchip and pellet exports push towards new records

Woodchip and pellet exports from Australia are pushing towards new records with monthly export volumes increasingly being above 700,000 bone dried metric tonnes. June and July 2018 saw exports above that level on consecutive months for the first time. As a result, year-end exports pushed up to 7.536 million bdmt in July, seemingly reversing what was a downward trend since February.

Shown in the chart below, exports of woodchips and pellets have been growing strongly for several years.

fig21

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

There are few surprises in this data. The simple reality is that hardwood chips (4401.22.99) dominate, with softwood chips (4401.21.20) a distant second and not much else import ant by volume.

Over the year-ended July, exports of hardwood chips totalled 6.789 million bdmt (90% of total exports) and softwood chips totalled 0.647 million bdmt (9% of the total).

The chart below shows total exports, by type.

fig22

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

The chart shows amply the importance of hardwood chips, and to a lesser extent, softwood chips. However, the dominance of the woodchips obscures the other products.

To provide a little more detail of the more ‘exotic’ exports, the table below shows just how small these shipments are, by volume.

  YE Jul ‘14 YE Jul ‘15 YE Jul ‘16 YE Jul ‘17 YE Jul ‘18
4401.12.00 Fuel Wood  162,668   450 
4401.21.20 SW Chips 577,348 653,829 751,127  671,413 646,848 
4401.22.32 Sandalwood Chips 373  215
4401.22.99 HW Chips 4,285,302  5,075,954 5,709,476  6,360,380 6,789,292 
4401.31.00 Wood Pellets 1,088 679  834  11,524 97,427 

Although Wood Pellet exports have been growing, at just below 100,000 tonnes over the year-ended July, they have plenty of growth yet to come. There are market challenges for all forms of fuel wood, but as global markets mature, opportunities are demonstrably increasing.

Sandalwood chip exports look minor – by volume they are – but they are important because at a value of AUD14.1 million, their unit value is very high, with exports still set to grow.

Little will trump hardwood chips anytime soon, but in the era of the ‘circular economy’ every element of every product has value, and the best future value could well lie in products that are just bit players for the moment.

Posted Date: October 10, 2018

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