In 2008, the price of our native forest woodchips was more expensive than last year. Because of a shortage of wood supply from around the Pacific Rim and an increased demand in Japan, the mountain of chips sailing to Japan annually looks set to increase. However, the global economic turmoil could throw a spanner in many of these seemingly safe markets.
Australia has become the world’s largest exporter of wood chips, shipping a record of over 6 million oven-dry metric tons in 2007, with 2008 looking equally bad or worse. Native forest eucalyptus chip made up most of last year’s exports. Pine accounted for about 30%.
Japan takes most of our woodchips, with South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and China also taking some loads. Our chip export prices have more than doubled over the past six years and are currently US$167 a tonne for native species. Plantation chips are about $20 more.
The increasing price of Aussie forests for making paper in Japan is despite North American forests being regarded as making higher quality paper. But their prices are also on the rise. So it seems like Australia, the US, New Zealand and Canada are in hot competition to rip-rip, chip-chip and ship ship.