Firewood suppliers across Australia are scrambling to keep up with demand amid fears stock could run out entirely before the end of winter.
- The pandemic and extreme weather are being blamed for a shortage of firewood
- Prices are on the rise as suppliers restrict how much wood customers can buy
- Suppliers are worried supplies could run out before the end of winter
Extreme weather in New South Wales and the pandemic are being blamed for a dearth of firewood across the country, which has resulted in rising prices.
NSW, the main supplier of firewood, had bushfires during the summer of 2019-20 and floods last year.
Changing consumer behaviour since the pandemic is also being cited as a reason, with buyers securing more firewood earlier in the year rather than in smaller amounts during winter.
As a result, Todd Gelletly, a red gum firewood wholesaler and former Firewood Association of Australia board member, has decided to restrict supply to his buyers, including refusing new customers.
“Usually we supply anyone and everyone who comes along, but in the last couple of years we’ve had to pull back and look after our good regular customers.”
Hard to get
Riverland Firewood in South Australia has been battling to source enough stock to sell on to residents.
It has already been an icy start to winter for the region, with the town of Renmark recording a May record low of -5.1C last week.
“It’s only early but we’ve had a bit of a cold snap, and if people haven’t bought their firewood in the warmer months and they’re trying to source it now, they’re finding it very hard to get,” owner Debra Cmrlec said.
“Last season, during the year we did have to put the price up a little bit; this year the price is dearer than what they’re telling us we’re going to have to pay.
“So we already have put our price up a little bit to cover that, but we are warning customers that there’s a chance we may have to put the price up again because winter hasn’t really started yet.”
‘We can’t just cut more wood’
Despite suppliers limiting how much wood customers can buy, there are still fears of a shortfall before spring.
Mr Gelletly said firewood must be sustainably harvested to ensure the health of the environment and future supply, which limits how much can be produced in a year.
“We have to cut at a sustainable level, and that’s certainly what we do.
“People need to be thinking more and more about their firewood supply over summer, rather than relying on being able to go into their local retailer in the middle of winter and expect a supply of firewood.”