Softwood sales close to 2.9 million m3 in 2015-16
Concluding the financial year with a flourish, sales of domestically produced sawn softwood totalled 2,897,853 m3 for the year-ended June 2016. Sales were 9.9% higher than for the prior financial year, with the latest data showing trends that can be expected to deliver successive records throughout the remainder of 2016.
In June 2016, sales totalled 247,800 m3, 14.6% higher than June 2015.
The chart below shows both the monthly sales total and the growing year-end total sales.
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There have been two drivers of growth over the last year.
The first, unsurprisingly, is the continued strength of new housing commencements, coupled with the solid growth in alteration and addition activity over the same period.
Every month, around half of all new residential dwelling approvals are free-standing houses, the mainstay of the sawn softwood market. Those approvals flow through into commencements and completions some time later and thus, we can be relatively assured that each month’s record approvals will result in rising sales of sawn timber.
The critical question is whether there is any spare capacity in and among the domestic producers and the supply chain providing them with roundwood resources. With one qualification (see below), the answer seems to be that there is some additional capacity that has been harnessed and is being utilised.
It is difficult to put an exact number on that capacity, but it appears to approximate something close to three million cubic metres per annum. For all that production and sales of domestic softwood appear to be near their limits, especially as imports of sawn softwood have declined.
However, the above comments also need to be tempered by the fact that some amendments to the data series have occurred with the inclusion of some sales which were previously overlooked.