NZ lumber exports down

NZ lumber exports for the first quarter were below the first quarter of 2013 by 2%. Though there have been drops of 4% and 3% respectively in exports to China and Australia, exports to South-East Asia have increased 11% year-on-year for the first quarter.

There’s been a 1% increase to the average unit price exported to South-East Asia, but the response in volume has been much higher, due mostly to a 13% drop in average returns for lumber exported to China.

There’s been a 22% drop year-on-year in lumber exported from Canada to China for the first quarter. However, this is more than made up for by increases of 73% and 32% in US and Russia’s exports of lumber to China. A large volume of Canada’s decrease in exports can be attributed for by the Vancouver port truck driver’s strike in March.

Prices for SPF lumber in Canada have increased by 14% in the past month. Though there are still issues with access to rail cars in order to move the product, there has been greater exports to the US, which is helping to clear large inventories on mill floors.

Exports to Australia are down for both lumber and mouldings. Average unit prices to Australia have eased 23% year-on-year for the first quarter. However, there is much higher competition for structural lumber in the NZ domestic market than a year ago, so much of the higher value wood will be finding a home in NZ rather than Australia.

Mouldings exports to the US have fallen, but recently high demand for NZ product in the US has been reported. Though values are lower than a year ago due to a false start in the US market last year, most product for that market is being sold quickly. Exports of lumber to the US were up 6% year-on-year for the first quarter, and this is likely to continue on an upward trend as US housing starts continue to recover. Margins in this market though are being squeezed by the high NZ dollar relative to the USD.


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