Softwood timber sales up 1.1% year-ended September

Total sales of domestically produced sawn softwood rose 1.1% for the year-ended September 2017, reaching 3,134,400 m3. Although increases were widespread, and for some grades were higher than others, the major grades delivered the bulk of the volume increase. In particular, the ever-rising influence of Treated Structural <120 mm continued, with sales growth of 7.3% pushing its sales up to 718,098 m3 for the year.

Despite the strength of the Treated Structural mainstay, the traditional and untreated Structural <120 mm continues its dominance, recording 760,680 m3, up 1.7% from the prior year.

The chart below, from the new FWPA data portal, shows the details over the two years.

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In addition, the screen shot of the detailed data is displayed below.

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There are, as was discussed at the outset, other grades for which sales have been strong over the last year or more.

As the housing boom matures into a long tail of dwellings being completed, there was always an expectation that Landscaping and related external timber products would experience solid growth. That has certainly been the case, as the chart below shows. But while the growth of 2.7% on the prior year and the total 152,360 m3 of sales is impressive now, the continued strength of approvals of free-standing dwellings and other housing formats that have an ‘outdoors’ to call their own, is likely to result in sustained sales of these sometimes ignored products.

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The other factor feeding into sustained growth for landscape and other products – sales of which are shown below, combined, for the last decade – is the extensive expenditure on renovations being undertaken by those remaining in the same home. It is difficult to quantify just how many alterations and additions include new gardens, but we may reasonably surmise it is many, given the influence of these external grades in the economy.

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For the year-ended September 2017, total sales of the landscaping and external grades shown in the chart were 520,063 m3, up 151% on a decade earlier and an average 9.7% per annum over the decade. That is significant by any measure.

The Outdoor Domestic grade, which includes dressed products such as fascias and weatherboards, as well as reeded and unreeded decking has grown most strongly, no doubt substituting to some extent for what were previously more predominantly hardwood materials from native forests.

The graphs shown in this story are drawn from the new FWPA data dashboard. The system is currently undergoing beta testing with expectation that access passwords will be available for our current dashboard users shortly.