It’s time for another blackwood timber market price review, this time courtesy of Hydrowood and Uptons.
My previous price list reviews have generally not named the suppliers, but in this instance I think I need too since Hydrowood is likely to be the major supplier of premium grade blackwood timber for the next 5 to 10+ years. Hydrowood will therefore set the price ceiling for quite some time.
Go here to read my reviews of other blackwood (and other species) timber price lists:
Here are the current prices are for Hydrowood blackwood from Uptons:
These prices are for rough-sawn, kiln-dried blackwood timber.
It’s a curious price list for a number of reasons.
Firstly there are only two grades of Hydrowood blackwood – fiddleback and everything else! The price for select (clear) grade is the same as for natural (knotty& defective)!!
The other curious feature (and I’ve discussed this in relation to other timber price lists) is the lack of price increase (per cubic metre) with increasing piece size. Whilst you can cut large trees into small pieces of wood the reverse is not true. You can only cut large dimension timber from bigger, older trees. And bigger, older trees cost more time and money to grow. Therefore larger dimension timber should attract a higher per cubic metre price to reflect the higher cost to the grower.
Of course there isn’t a “grower” in this case, but given that the owner of this resource (the Tasmanian Government) isn’t charging any royalties, and Hydrowood are a dominant supplier in the blackwood market, this creates significant pricing distortions in the marketplace.
But there’s the thing. These prices bear no relationship to the cost of growing the wood. This is salvage timber from the bottom of hydro lakes. No forest management costs, no roading costs, no expensive forest practices plans, no royalties paid to the Government!
This is low cost blackwood.
In that regard it shares much with Forestry Tasmania the other major producer of blackwood. Forestry Tasmania produces blackwood at below cost and receives a direct taxpayer subsidy for doing so.
If we want to encourage and develop a profitable sustainable forest industry then this isn’t the way to do it!
This blackwood is even cheaper than Select grade Tas Oak at Bunnings!!
The other interesting feature of the Hydrowood price list is that there are only three pricing structures for all of their species/products, of which two are shown in the above chart.
The Natural/Select Blackwood pricing is shared with plain Myrtle, or what Hydrowood calls Western Beech (Nothofagus cunninghamii), and Tas Oak (Eucalyptus sp.)!! The fiddleback blackwood pricing structure is shared with Black Heart Sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum), Huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii), Marine-grade Celery Top Pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius), and flame-grain Myrtle/Western Beech. An intermediate pricing of $5,900 per cubic metre is applied to all Knotty Celery Top pine and plain coloured Sassafras.
Of course the impact of these pricing structures on the future of the other (non-blackwood) species is irrelevant. These other slow-growing species do not provide any investment opportunities. But farmers can invest in growing commercial blackwood provided that markets are working properly, and Government and industry policy is supportive.
No chance of that here in Tasmania.
This is the fourth blackwood timber price list I have reviewed and what these price lists show is a blackwood marketplace in disarray. Blackwood prices are all over the place, from cheaper than radiata pine, to prices that rival the most expensive premium timbers in the world!
If you were wondering whether to invest in growing commercial blackwood then this marketplace would not provide you with any confidence. I wish I could say that these prices clearly demonstrate the viability of growing commercial blackwood but I can’t.
These blackwood timber price lists do not reflect the cost of growing the wood. Nor do they reflect an industry that has a vision for its future. Instead they remind me more of a closing down sale!
They reflect an industry that has lost hope, and is now in a desperate race to the bottom.
Without a solid commercial foundation the forest industry doesn’t have a future.
So now you know where to get your cheap premium blackwood timber.
When will Tasmania get a fully commercial profitable forest industry?