Exports of sawn timber fell during the first six months of 2014 by 14% from a year ago to 843,289m3, according to newsletter Random Lengths International.

The deficit was only 1% in the first quarter but accelerated to 24% during April-June. While sawn timber exports have fluctuated from 1.78 million m3 to 2.11 million m3 between 2007 and 2012, log exports have more than trebled in the same period. Sales have risen in eight consecutive years from 5.19 million m3 to 16.6 million m3 in 2013.

Exports for the first half of the year are up 8% at 8.46 million m3. New Zealand exported about 56% of its log harvest in the first six months of 2013 due to robust foreign demand, especially from China, which buys almost two-thirds.

New Zealand mills have often struggled to procure enough logs in recent years. However, prices have leveled off and mills have been able to keep sawn wood production on a par with last year at 1.92 million m3 in the first six months.

Sawn timber exports to the US slipped 3% but the sharpest drop was to Asia. Shipments to China fell 24% and deliveries to South Korea plunged 42%.