Logging halt undercuts strong export month – Log exports fell sharply in April 2020 after logging operations were suspended during alert level 4, but average prices per cubic metre picked up, Stats NZ said this week.
In contrast, dairy and fruit exports were strong despite fears of port congestion amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Total exports fell $220 million (4 percent) to $5.3 billion in April 2020 compared with the same month last year.
“Total exports would have been worth almost the same as April last year, if they had not been undercut by the big drop in logs,” international statistics manager Darren Allan said.
Exports of logs were worth just $96 million in April 2020, down $211 million from $307 million last April. While the quantity of logs exported fell 69 percent, the biggest-ever monthly percentage fall, the price has risen to $170 a cubic metre this month after falling to $137 in July 2019.
“Log harvesting was a non-essential service under alert level 4 and didn’t restart until alert level 3 at the end of April, so it is understandable that log exports have dropped sharply,” Mr Allan said.
Most New Zealand logs are exported to China.
“However, the increase in unit price may suggest there is still unmet demand as log inventories in China are run down and export values may bounce back quickly as harvesting picks up again.”
The value of sawn timber exports also fell $61 million or 79 percent, reflecting the log shortage.