Can New Zealand be­come more than a log ex­porter?

New Zealand Logger - - Tall Timber - Story: John El­le­gard

NEW ZEALAND FORESTRY WILL re­main vul­ner­a­ble as long as its for­tunes are tied to ex­port­ing a com­mod­ity that is sub­ject to wildly fluc­tu­at­ing de­mand and prices.

PF Olsen’s re­tir­ing CEO, Peter Clark, be­lieves it is pos­si­ble for the in­dus­try to wean it­self from some of the com­mod­ity busi­ness in the fu­ture and make more fin­ished prod­ucts here, but reck­ons we will still need to ex­port a cer­tain amount of logs.

“We’ll al­ways be a log ex­porter, be­cause the in­dus­trial grade logs are re­ally hard to make prof­itable prod­ucts from in a New Zealand sawmill and sell them against Cana­dian ‘sausage mills’, which are much more ef­fi­cient and faster,” he says.

Some of those in­dus­trial-grade logs we ex­port now could be di­verted to be made into the new en­gi­neered wood prod­ucts be­ing in­tro­duced to mar­ket, such as Cross Lam­i­nated Tim­ber (CLT) pan­els.

Chi­nese board man­u­fac­turer, Fenglin, will also soak up some of the cen­tral North Is­land sup­ply for its planned mill at Kaw­erau. And he thinks there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for Bio Char

and Ac­ti­vated Car­bon made from wood.

But as long as wood pro­ces­sors in China are pre­pared to pay US$100 for chip logs it will be hard for any New Zealand mill to com­pete against the Chi­nese ad­van­tage of be­ing very close to the end mar­ket or the mas­sive Cana­dian and Rus­sian pro­duc­ers.


Above: Logs ex­ports will still form an im­por­tant part of the forestry busi­ness in New Zealand for many years to come, says Peter Clark.

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