Softwood log exports hit another new record

Australia’s softwood log exports hit yet another new record in the year-ended January 2017. Exports totaled 3,619,100 m3, almost 22% higher than for the year-ended January 2016. Despite exports being their lowest in a year, January’s volumes were still 2.7% higher than in January 2016.

The chart below, provided by IndustryEdge from its trade data service, shows Australia’s log exports by species, emphasising the continual dominance and stellar growth of exports of softwood logs. 

Australian Softwood Log Exports: Jan ‘09 – Jan ‘17 (km3 and km3 pa)


 Source: ABS & IndustryEdge


From January 2017 onwards, log export data is available based on the log diameter, split between those that are <150 mm and > 150 mm. This data will shortly be available across several months and will doubtless be useful to business analysis.

Turning to prices, softwood log exports returned to their stable position of recent months in January, after the sharp lift recorded in December 2016. The average export price in January was AUDFob128.71/m3. This is displayed in the chart below.

Softwood Log Export Prices: Jan ‘09 – Jan ‘17 (AUDFob/m3)

Source: ABS & IndustryEdge

Exports are dominated, as is so often the case, by shipments to China. While China took the vast bulk of the monthly decline in January, it still received 95% of shipments for the month, with Korea the only other significant recipient.

Shipments from Victoria continue to dominate, with 116,531 m3 of exports in January 2017, accounting for 61% of the total. Victoria’s supplies are sent from each of its three ports (Portland, Geelong and Melbourne). Inevitably, shipments from Victoria are dominated by supplies to China, which for the year-ended January 2017 rose a very strong 31.5% compared with the prior year.

Turning to hardwood log exports, largely similar to previous years, exports slumped, on seasonal lines, in January to record just 4,353 m3 for the month.