Even after a record year in 2021 where the volume of timber imports has nearly reached 11.7 million m3 – a volume not seen since 2007
– supply is under some threat, both from old challenges and new.
memory we saw timber nearly cleared off the shelves of all merchants. Stories abound of builders apprentices driving hours looking to find supplies at whichever merchant they could get to first over Summer. This can be seen in the BMBI index, where growth in demand for timber and joinery products peaked at just under 200% over June and July.
The volume of timber imported by the UK in 2021 was 1.5 million m3 more than 2020, and in total
reached nearly 11.7 million m3 – a 15% increase.
Most of the growth in import volumes in 2021 came in the first three quarters, with import
volumes in Q4 2021 falling substantially below those seen. Import volumes in Q4 2021 were
around 28% below the same quarter in 2020.
This record level of imports is a reflection of demand for timber products in 2021, with a strong
RM&I sector and a resurgent private housing market having kept supply on allocation throughout
the first three quarters of 2021.
Timber prices, and structural softwood in particular, experienced rapid increases over the course
of 2021. The average price of sawn and planed softwood in May, June and July rose by 55%, 65%
and 88% respectively over their corresponding months in 2020.