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Australian Woodchip Exports Continue to Fade: Down 32% Year-Ended November

February 04, 2021
Author: Tim Woods

According to IndustryEdge’s latest edition of Wood Market Edge online, Australia’s combined annual exports of hardwood and softwood woodchips for the twelve-months-ended November 2020 were recorded at 4.470 million bone dried metric tons (bdmt), 32.0% lower than the prior year. Monthly export volumes have not been above 500,000 bdmt since October of 2019, and in November 2020, totaled 448,036 bdmt.

Hardwood chips make up the majority of Australian exports. Their annual volume fell 35.4% across the year to total 3,922,739 bdmt.

Always variable, total exports of softwood woodchips grew, albeit off a much smaller base. Softwood chip exports were up 9.2% compared to the prior 12 months, to total 547,211 bdmt for the year-ended November 2020.

The chart displays total woodchip exports on a monthly basis. 

Australian Woodchips Exports: Jan ’17 – Nov ’20 (kbdmt)


Source: ABS, GTIS & IndustryEdge estimates. Note: March 2016 to May 2017 softwood chips are estimates

This chart was created in IndustryEdge’s Wood Market Edge online platform. 

Australia’s entire hardwood chip export trade has been redacted by ‘confidentiality’ restrictions since the start of October. IndustryEdge can confirm that as a result of the hardwood chip trade entering the black hole, the only way to access accurate and ongoing trade information related to hardwood chip exports is via its Wood Market Edge online data service.

In July, exporters were granted confidentiality restrictions over shipments of hardwood chips to Japan and Taiwan. That exposed only the shipments to mainland China, with exporters again being granted confidentiality restrictions, this time including mainland China, Japan and Taiwan. As a result, formal export data for more than 99% of Australia’s hardwood chip exports are now declared as ‘No Country Details’, with only a monthly total and a total average price reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Examined month-on-month, November 2020 saw monthly export volumes increase after a series of low export months. Combined exports of hardwood and softwood were recorded at 448,036 bdmt in November, (416,357 bdmt hardwood, 31,679 bdmt softwood).

Based on our monitoring of ship movements, we anticipate December’s export volumes will jump to 533,708 bdmt. We project January’s exports will drop back to 334,143 bdmt for the month. As the latest edition of Wood Market Edge was being finalized, IndustryEdge’s vessel tracking observes thirteen vessel departures anticipated during January.

Vessel movement data is updated constantly by the IndustryEdge team, providing subscribers to Wood Market Edge online with near real-time updates of the woodchip trade.


The table below shows Australia’s woodchip export volumes for November, and IndustryEdge’s December estimate and January projection.


Source: ABS, IndustryEdge research and application of Despatch to Shipment Ratio


December chip deliveries estimated at 248,431 bdmt

December saw total deliveries of Australian woodchips drop back to an estimated 248,431 bdmt. In December, shipments were delivered to China and Japan. Deliveries to China accounted for 76.8% and Japan 23.2%.

Woodchip Deliveries by Country of Destination: Oct ‘20 – Dec ’20 (e) (bdmt)


 Woodchip export price movements

Australia’s average export price for hardwood chips increased in November 2020 to average AUDFob211.46/bdmt. For softwood chip exports, the average price rebounded somewhat in November, to average AUD189.53/bdmt. Softwood chip exports often vary considerably, but October’s price was the lowest average price since December 2017, and November’s increase still leaves the average price well below the recent range.

Wood Market Edge online subscribers seeking additional port-level details can use the SilvaStat360 downloads option and examine the raw data files.

The chart below shows the recent average price experience by species.

Woodchip Export Prices by Species: Jan ’17 – Nov ‘20 (AUDFob/bdmt)


Source: ABS 

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