We knew January was a big month in the forests, but now comes confirmation that a new record has been set for the start of a year.


Latest figures show New Zealand exported more than one million cubic metres of softwood logs in January, for just the second time ever.


The exact total was 1.1 million cubic metres left, which was an increase of 32% compared to January of last year, according to Global Trade Information Services data published in AgriHQ's monthly forestry market report.


The only other time exports surpassed one million cubic metres in January was in 2014.


The export volume boost has been partly credited with the later timing of Chinese New Year, which moved some of the heavy pre-Chinese New Year trading into January rather than December, or onto later ships.


AgriHQ says shipments of New Zealand logs into China in January climbed 43% from the same month a year earlier, and accounting for 40% of China's total log imports, significantly ahead of its closest rival Russia with a 21%.


However, exporters are keeping a wary eye on log inventories at Chinese ports, which were running at an estimated at 4.3-4.5M m3 in March – a fairly high level by historic standard. Mills are beginning to draw down on that level, now they are back in full production following the Chinese New Year, but there is extra competition coming from places such as the Southern USA, Brazil and Uruguay.


According to PF Olsen these logs are predominantly used in the construction industry where the timber is used for concrete form work and are sold at a discount to New Zealand Radiata logs. With that in mind, New Zealand needs to ensure there is demand from other export markets, too.


Scott Downs, Business Development Manager for PF Olsen, says: “The market outlook for China remains steady, while the India demand outlook is mixed with the construction market slow, but with packaging still in strong demand. There are currently less log suppliers shipping to India and demand is still expected to lift in Quarter 3.”


Meanwhile, figures published this week show forestry price increases are continuing to slow, as we reported in the April issues of NZ Logger magazine. Whilst the March increase of 0.3% was the 18th straight gain on the back of solid domestic and Chinese demand for wood products, headwinds are appearing, ranging from capacity and logisitics constraints here at home, to the threat of an all-out trade war between the US and China.

Posted on Thursday 12th April 2018

January forest exports highest ever

Forestry exports hit a new high in January.

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