The Timber Crisis Is Weakening

Timber imports are up by nearly a quarter, year on year, and the industry expects there to be no more mass shortages in the year ahead.

More than 3.32 million cubic metres of timber and panel were imported in the third quarter of 2021 as the market achieves greater balance between supply and demand after nearly a year of record imports.

The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) statistics show that import levels are more than 23 percent higher than Q3 2020 – and more than 10 percent higher than the last time Q3 volumes exceeded three million cubic metres, back in 2007.

Softwood is being imported in larger amounts from a wider range of countries over the past quarter, with Latvia, Finland, and Germany growing to account for 61 percent (1.1 million m3) of the 1.8 million m3 of softwood imported in Q3 2021.

Other timber products, including hardwood, plywood, particleboard, OSB and MDF, have also seen clear increases in Q3 2021 as compared with the previous year.

While the supply of some goods continues to be under pressure, amid buoyant demand and logistics issues, the timber supply chain overall has proven resilient, with the timber industry in a strong position to meet demand in 2022, the federation insisted.

TTF head of technical and trade policy Nick Boulton said: “These latest statistics continue to reflect the incredible demand for timber products seen over the past year which have kept the UK on track to surpass previous import records. We are in a strong position to meet growing demand for sustainable, low-carbon construction materials – both now and in the future. As a low-carbon, low-energy construction material, timber is likely to grow as the material of choice among climate conscious architects, engineers, developers and planners in the UK. With the tightest period of tension between supply and demand likely behind us, we can expect a return to more ‘regular’ activity in 2022.”

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