2021 logs on with a great start for the NZ lumber industry – UW GROUP

2021 logs on with a great start for the NZ lumber industry

I’m not alone in being relieved that 2020 has been kicked into touch and the prospects for 2021 are looking better…so far.

2020, courtesy of Covid-19, featured a massive roller coaster in terms of log prices and demand for export logs, which make up around 65 per cent of our total production. The swing from highest to lowest price was $56/JAS and the largest we have experienced since 2014.

We don’t rely heavily on export markets because we want to, it’s purely that our log production, driven by available harvest, far exceeds the domestic sawmill demand and, more importantly, many of the lower quality, knotty logs are not suitable for domestic sawmills. These logs are either of smaller diameter, have much larger knot (branch) sizes or are not straight enough to go through the sawmill.

China has come out of the Covid blocks firing on all eight cylinders with a huge amount of infrastructure spending which has, in turn, created sustained demand for all raw materials, logs included. Iron ore prices are up 60 per cent year-to-date and increases in other key imports such as copper indicate strength in manufacturing and construction. Chinese softwood log and lumber imports are at the highest point ever, at around 8 million cubic metres per month.


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