UK timber product imports reach nine-year high

14 March 2017

UK imports of timber and panel products are at their highest level for nine years, according to the Timber Trade Federation’s (TTF) latest statistics.

Provisional totals for 2016 show a volume of 9.8 million m3 of the main timber and panel products. This total is likely to increase slightly as final figures become available, but currently show volume being 5% higher than in 2015.

“These figures show the healthy state of the timber economy in the UK, with year on year growth since the financial crash of 2008/10,” said David Hopkins, managing director of the TTF.

“We will be working to help grow the timber sector further during the course of 2017 also.”

Import volumes in the fourth quarter of 2016 were nearly 2% higher than in the same quarter of 2015 and represented the third consecutive quarter of growth over the corresponding quarter in 2015, though the rate of growth has decreased since Q2 2016.

Softwood imports in Dec-Jan 2016 registered a 5.2% volume growth to 6.19 million m3, with Latvia increasing its market share to 17%, behind the market leader Sweden on 43%. The value of imports increased by 6.5%.

Hardwood imports were down 1.9% for the year to 426,000m3 with market leader the US improving its market share to 24% and Estonia doubling its volumes to register a 10% market share. Cameroon and Malaysia also increased their market share.

Plywood imports grew 0.9% to 1.47 million m3, with hardwood plywood up 3.7% to 1.02 million m3. China’s market share in hardwood ply dropped 4% to 55%, while other suppliers increased their UK shipments – Indonesia seeing a 32% rise, Russia up by 28% and Malaysia increasing 16%.

Softwood plywood imports were down 5% on the year to 451,000m3. A significantly lower volume was shipped from China, while Chile saw a 5% rise to 12% of the market. Russia doubled its volumes, although from a low base, while Brazil maintains its dominant position of 54% of the market.

Particleboard imports recorded 21.8% growth to 809,000m3. France and Germany retained their leading positions, although experienced loss in market share, with Latvia nearly tripling its volumes to 9% of the market and Belgium also increasing shipments.

OSB imports were down 11.4% to 270,000m3 and MDF imports increased by 9.1% to 611,000m3.

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