Strong UK market recovery for timber imports

ByForest Machine Magazine

17th October 2020

A UK Timber Trade Federation (TTF) report revealed total import volumes for main timber and panel products were approximately 1% below July 2019 levels, with 866,000m3 arriving in the UK.

The one percent difference in volumes between the two months (July 2020 and July 2019) was the lowest percentage reduction in volume since April 2019.

These volumes were higher than the TTF originally predicted and raise the TTF’s forecast for total timber imports to the UK in 2020 to around 8.4 million m3 (approx. 19% lower than 2019).

Imports across all major individual product categories, softwood, hardwood, and panel products, have been on the rise.

“These figures are a good signal of a strengthening market. They will go some way to helping rebuild stocks and meet rising demand for timber products,” David Hopkins, CEO of the Timber Trade Federation, said.

“The huge surge we’ve seen in DIY projects along with increased global demand has been unprecedented and caused spikes and longer lead times across certain product categories. This rise in imports should start to help ease that pressure, especially if the trend continues over the coming months.”

For the first time in 2020, softwood import volumes exceeded 2019 levels as 580,000m3 were imported in July 2020 compared to 514,000m3 in July 2019.

Hardwood imports increased to 40,000 m3 in July 2020, which while still 5,000m3 below July 2019 figures, represents a 54% increase over June 2020.

Imports for panel products have increased during June and July, with OSB and MDF leading the way.

OSB imports in July 2020 were 46,000m3, a 48% increase from the volumes seen in June 2020, and 8,000m3 more than July 2019 (38,000m3).

MDF imports for June and July are almost double May’s imports (27,000m3), reaching 57,000m3 in June and 52,000m3 in July 2020.

In terms of exports, the UK exported a combined 40,000 cubic metres of softwoods in June 2020 (20,000m3) and July 2020 (20,000m3), 14% higher than in the same two months of 2019, with 98% of softwood exports going to the Republic of Ireland.

Softwood exports to the Republic of Ireland to Ireland were 16% higher in June and July 2020 than the same time a year ago, with planed goods higher by 44%, led by a 47% increase in planed whitewood exports.

For panel products, Sweden, Republic of Ireland and Norway consumed more OSB from the UK during the first seven months of 2020 than in the same period in 2019.

This includes a 25% volume growth recorded in exports to Ireland and Norway and a more than doubling of volume sent to Sweden. As a result, the reduction in OSB volume has fallen to be just 4% lower in 2020 to date than it was in 2019.

Forest Machine Magazine is written and edited by a forest professional with over 40 years hands on experience. We are dedicated to keeping you informed with all the latest news, views and reviews from our industry.

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