Post & beam imports peaked – up 31.6% year-ending April 2016

Part of the ‘Builders’ Joinery’ import grouping, imports of Posts & Beams, which includes I-Beams and other engineered wood products, have grown dramatically over recent years. The entire Builders’ Joinery grouping itself has grown to be valued at AUD471.3 million for the year-ended April 2016, a rise of 25.4% on the prior year. However, for the same period, the Wooden Posts & Beams sub-grouping rose 31.6% to a record AUD86.1 million.

The total value of Builder’s Joinery imports, including monthly values, is detailed in the chart below.


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The chart displays the strong rise in imports of Builders’ Joinery, with month-on-month growth continuing and driving likely further increases in year-end values. As an example, in April 2016, the total value of imports was AUD36.6 million, up 6.1% on April 2015. Some of this may be attributed to higher import prices associated with the depreciated Australian dollar. 

However, as the volume chart below shows, the volume of imports is continuing to grow on both a month-on-month basis and therefore, on a year-end basis. Even if we set aside the spike in imports in August and September aside, volume growth has been evident in every month through to April 2016. There is a higher hurdle to sustain growth in May 2016, but the underlying point is that growth in value and volume of Builders’ Joinery imports are closely linked.


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Turning to the specific product, Posts & Beams and its very strong year-on-year value growth through to April 2016, the chart below shows that imports appear to have peaked for the year-ended January 2016, when they reached AUD116.0 million. On a month-on-month basis, the value of imports in April 2016 was AUD9.0 million, down 9.1% on the prior April.

In short, as this chart shows, imports of Posts & Beams are trending down, at least on a  $value basis.


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

Unfortunately, the volume data was unavailable for this analysis, but the countries of origin provide some clues as to the causes of what appears to be imports that have ‘turned’ from a growth trend.

As the chart below displays, the USA continues to dominate supplies of Posts and Beams to Australia, but it does so having experienced a decline in value of 9.6% for the year-ended April 2016, compared with the prior corresponding period.


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

Other countries have filled the US breach, at least to some extent. These include Canada, New Zealand and a variety of other countries, whose import value expanded more than five-fold over the year.

Even without the volume data, we can surmise with a level of accuracy that two factors are likely driving the changes. Improvements in the US domestic housing market and a higher US Dollar relative to the other currencies, have likely coalesced to reduce the USA’s influence in the Australian market.

The upshot is that despite the value declining, the likelihood is that the volume of imports of Posts & Beams has declined less and of course, may not have declined at all. Couple that with the long construction tail of the residential housing boom and you can observe a market that may be at or near its peak, but that will not slow significantly, at least in coming months.