Timber imports decline but stocks remain steady, says TDUK

Timber supply in the UK remains strong despite falling import volumes in July 2022, according to the latest Timber Development UK statistics.

Overall import volumes in the first seven months of 2022 stand at 6.1 million m3 – 1.1 million m3 lower than the same period in 2021.

Despite this, timber stocks remain steady, with supply patterns returning to more pre-pandemic levels following record demand last year.

Softwood imports are likely to fall further as the year progresses, with the TDUK softwood forecast predicting reductions of 500,000m3 between H1 and H2 2022.

From the heights of around 7.6 million m3 imported in 2021, it is forecasted that overall softwood imports will fall to around 6.1 million m3 in 2022.

Though overall volumes are down, some categories have seen import growth, with hardwood imports up by 23% compared to 2021.

TDUK Head of Technical and Trade, Nick Boulton, said:

“The latest TDUK statistics may look gloomy at first glance, however falling import levels highlight healthy stocks and more ‘normal’ supply patterns compared to a chaotic 2021.

It is unsurprising that overall import levels are below 2021 volumes. Last year witnessed record demand in the private housing and RM&I market, which will not be emulated this year.  

“As predicted in our softwood forecast, we do expect demand and imports to slow further as the year progresses, with high energy costs and inflation harming consumer confidence in key sectors.

“This was echoed by our European counterparts at the International Softwood Conference last week, who cited the same reasons for falling continental import volumes in Q3 and Q4 2022.

“Despite the negative macroeconomic picture, the timber industry remains strong. The competitive advantage of timber products is that they are relatively low-energy to produce, particularly when compared to high-energy, and carbon-intensive products such as cement or steel.

“With a significant rise in energy prices expected this winter crisis, these products are likely to face significant inflation.”