Timber imports saw steady growth heading into Q3

July was the second consecutive month that timber imports were higher than in 2022, according to the latest TDUK statistics.

Import volumes across all timber categories were 5% higher in July 2023 compared to the same period last year. This follows initial growth in June, where total volumes were up 2.2% compared to 2022.

OSB and MDF were core drivers of this steady increase, with volumes up 32% and 7% respectively.

Though overall 2023 levels remain below last year, the deficit in import volume continues to reduce, down to 5% in January to July compared to 7% in January to June.

This biggest yearly gap is seen in the hardwood category, down 24% on last year. This, however, is largely due to the record totals seen in 2022.

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

“Timber imports have remained steady in 2023, with the market recovering from the dramatic peaks and troughs seen over the last few years.

“As seen in July, volumes are now fluctuating in a more gradual fashion, with buyers importing timber at a more realistic pace compared to the previous three years.

“Going forward, the market picture remains gloomy following the release of the CPA’s latest forecast, which predicted a 19% decline in private housing and an 11% decline in RMI heading into 2024.

“Housing and RMI are the core drivers of timber demand, however, with high interest rates and sticky inflation, both sectors will continue to struggle in autumn/winter.

“There is room for positivity in the long term, with timber demand predicted to increase given the urgent need to decarbonise our built environment.

“Next month, the government will be releasing its Timber in Construction Roadmap which looks to outline policies capable of expanding low-carbon timber construction, particularly in housing.”

Members can read the full statistics report here.