Get ready for voting!

26 November 2019

I don’t know if you are one of those people who look forward to a UK General Election.

While I’m certainly not an election nut, I do enjoy hearing the polling boffins’ views, particularly Professor John Curtice of the University of Strathclyde who seems to have a greater handle on things than most people.

His stat wizardry is legendary. Only this time, even he says it’s too difficult to call.

Talk about the weather possibly impacting the result is an interesting one.

You have to go back to February 1974 for the last winter General Election, which saw Harold Wilson elected as prime minister.

It would somehow be appropriate considering our national pastime for talking about the weather, if a freak snowstorm impacted voting numbers. We would never hear the end of it – what would have happened if the sun had shone?

A pre-Christmas present for business would certainly be a result that provides more political certainty for businesses to plan ahead.

In this issue of TTJ, more news about the challenging conditions in softwood markets comes to light.

Delegates at the International Softwood Conference held in Antwerp in October heard that markets were “decelerating” and the outlook for coming months was challenging, particularly due to multiple raw material challenges.

With sawn timber prices falling, sawmill stocks rising and log issues due to the serious bark beetle infestation, the softwood market is no cake walk at the moment.

Third quarter results from Nordic company sawmillers reveal weaker profits and news on mill closures and curtailments in an attempt to address the problem.

In our Germany update Lars Schmidt, general manager at the German Sawmill & Timber Industry Association, quotes interesting German government figures on the scale of the problem.

The government estimates the damage to forests at 180,000ha – equivalent to 100 million m3 of wood, significantly exceeding the regular annual felling of 54 million m3. This glut of wood will clearly take time to get through the system and for the industry to adapt to.

Elsewhere in this issue we have our Sector Focus on Panel Products, including an in-depth look at Sonae Arauco’s 3DF three-dimensional fibreboard and coverage of this year’s International Panel Products Symposium where emissions, fibreboard recycling and global wood demand projections were major talking points.

We also update on tropical timber, with TTJ consultant editor Mike Jeffree reporting that UK tropical timber trading has become increasingly competitive in recent months, while developments on the FLEGT VPA programme are also covered.

I hope you enjoy reading this issue and let’s hope that snowstorm doesn’t happen on December 12!