Volumes of the main timber and panel product imports at the start of 2024 in January continued to be subdued – down 6% (45,000m3) on January 2023.

This is the verdict of Timber Development UK (TDUK) in its set of figures – Timber Statistics, Industry Facts & Figures, April 2024, which covers the first month of the year. The report goes on to say that in the first month of this year, solid wood imports were 9% lower than in January 2023, while panel product imports were 0.2% higher.

Softwood imports in the January yearon- year comparison were down 9.6%, with cumulative volume to January 2024 at 383,000m3 (2023: 423,000m3). The bulk of the drop is accounted for by a 9% reduction in volume from Sweden in January, compared to January 2023. That country’s share of the volume imports to the UK remains at 49%, way ahead of its nearest competitor, Latvia, whose share rose from 16% to 18% year-onyear. Latvia was the only leading supplier to increase its volumes to the UK – by 1%.

Values were also down, with the value of softwood imports in January 2024 around 15% lower than in January 2023.

Hardwood imports were down 13.8%, with cumulative volume to January 2024 at 32,000m3 (2023: 37,000m3).

Within that, tropical hardwoods were down 36.6%, with cumulative volume to January 2024 at 5,000m3 (2023: 9,000m3), while temperate hardwoods were up 2%, with cumulative volume to January at 18,400m3 (2023: 18,000m3).

Although the overall total was down, growth was realised by the US and Estonia with, collectively, nearly 2,000m3 more volume supplied. As a result, the US’s share of supply rose from 13% in January 2023 to 18% in January 2024, while Estonia’s rose from 11% to 16%.

The largest loss in volume was from Latvia – down by around 3,000m3.

Total plywood imports were down by 6% in the January year-on-year comparison period, with cumulative volume to January 2024 at 106,000m3 (2023: 113,000m3).

Within the total, hardwood plywood imports were up 36.1%, with cumulative volume to January 2024 at 68,000m3 (2023: 50,000m3).

The TDUK reports that the increase was mostly due to a nearly 18,000m3 increase from China, which saw the country boost its supply of hardwood plywood to the UK from 65% in January 2023, to 73% in January this year.

Indonesia supplied nearly 3,000m3 less to the UK and saw its share fall from 10% in January 2023 to 3% this January. Other major supplying countries, Latvia and Malaysia increased their volumes to the UK but each saw their share of supply remain at 4%.

Softwood plywood imports were down 40.4% in January, year-on-year, with cumulative volume at 37,000m3 (2023: 63,000m3).

Both Brazil and Chile sent less to the UK than in January 2023 – some 23,000m3 less between them – but Brazil retains the lion’s share of supply at 71% (albeit down from 74% in January 2023).

Chipboard imports were up by 3.4%, with cumulative volume to January 2024 at 49,000m3 (2023: 48,000m3).

This small rise in volume was achieved through substantial increases in volume from Belgium (up 2,000m3), Portugal (up 1,000m3) and Spain (up 4,000m3). Conversely, France sent 4,000m3 less to the UK and Germany 2,000m3 less.

OSB imports in the January year-onyear comparison periods were up 6.2%, with cumulative volume to January 2024 at 33,000m3 (2023: 31,000m3).

MDF imports in the comparison period were up 4.1%, with cumulative volume to January 2024 at 54,000m3 (2023: 52,000m3).