Making the most of sustainable NZ pine
A focus on whole log utilisation to produce a diverse product range is proving a winner for Southland timber products manufacturer Niagara.
As well as being an environmentally responsible approach, it means the company is well-placed to ride out volatility in today’s fast-changing international markets. Niagara mills sustainable radiata pine from selected plantations in Southland and Otago.
At the company’s state-of-the-art Kennington remanufacturing plant, the pine is then turned into quality building and finishing products using solid or finger jointed timber.
Nothing gets wasted: by products produced by Niagara include compost/mulch, pellet fuels, kindling, briquettes and wood chip boiler fuel.
New Zealand log exporters are currently facing difficult market conditions, with a drop in volume into China coinciding with a correction in prices after peak levels reached earlier this year. Coupled with that, an unprecedented outbreak of bark beetles in Europe means more spruce than usual is being sold out of Europe, also affecting demand for New Zealand logs.
Countries like Chile that have traditionally exported heavily into China are also looking for alternatives, flowing through to softer markets in Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand.
Fortunately, though, Niagara’s strength as a manufacturer of quality building products is working in its favour in this less than ideal trading environment.
Niagara’s product line-up includes watertight cladding systems, fascia, window liners and mouldings. Kiln dried, sustainably sourced timber is used to make one of its most popular brands, Envira Weatherboards, backed by a 25-year comprehensive warranty.
Niagara products are sold throughout New Zealand and exported to Australia and the United States. Group Sales and Marketing Manager Jamie Barton says the New Zealand market is “going very well” with particularly strong demand coming out of Auckland.
“Niagara has had good growth in the North Island throughout this year. The biggest product for us is our weatherboard – we’re seeing New Zealand embrace natural timber again.
Although it is just starting to show signs of softening, Australia has been pretty good for us too.”Pine grown and harvested in Southland and Otago is well suited to remanufacturing and Jamie says the region has a good log stock ahead of it to meet future needs.
In the domestic market, Niagara is also experiencing growing demand for its wood chip boiler fuel as more companies seek alternatives to coal. This high quality kiln dry wood chip is increasingly sought after in the commercial market.
Niagara’s investment in a pellet plant to produce pellet fuel from sustainably grown NZ pine is paying off too, with demand on the rise from both home and commercial pellet fuel users.
Last year, Niagara completed development of its Kennington site and this is now one of the most leading edge remanufacturing plants of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
The company employs a team of 130 staff in Invercargill, along with 60 in Ashburton and 15 in Cambridge.
“Our site in Cambridge is a distribution centre servicing the North Island, while the Ashburton site is a finishing plant and distribution centre for the South Island and lower North Island.”
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