Softwood chip exports lift above 1.0 Mbdmt

Australia’s exports of softwood chips lifted 84.7% over the year-ended November 2021, totalling 1.011 million bone dried metric tonnes (bdmt), while the mainstay hardwood chips saw annual exports up 9.1% to 4.258 million bdmt.

Demand for raw wood fibre for pulp and paper manufacture remains relatively strong in China and Japan, but the apparent market strength does not provide attribution for the very large lift in softwood chip exports.

The chart shows exports by species since the beginning of 2019 and makes clear that while exports are up, they are very far from recent peaks and a long way off records in total and in the case of hardwood chips. Softwood chips are closing in on record territory, which IndustryEdge advises was in early 2000.


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


Softwood chip exports have grown since China imposed its ban on Australian log imports. Material that is currently unable to be processed locally and for which alternative log markets are not available is being chipped and exported.

Exporters have successfully sought redaction of almost all data associated with the woodchip export trade. The only remaining data is total volumes and prices, with states of origin, countries and ports of destination all masked from view.

Using vessel tracking and port of destination data, IndustryEdge replicates the missing trade data, providing a window into both historical and future trade in woodchips.

The dependency wheel displayed below shows Australian softwood chip exports from December 2020 to November 2021. The wheel shows shipments to China and Japan and exposes that shipments to China – especially Rizhao – have grown to be around one-third of all softwood chip exports.


Online, this interactive chart provides details of volumes and vessel movements (and known prices for each vessel) and is available for customisation and to download.

Australia’s woodchip exports have recovered some ground lost in the last two years – but that has not been entirely on their own terms.