According to the latest statistics from the Timber Trade Federation, September was the best month of the year to date for softwood.

The 135,000m3 increase over September 2012 – the second worst month of 2012 – changed the position for all imports from decline to growth. During the first nine months, solid timber imports were down 0.2% on the year but an uplift in sawn softwood prices resulted in a £13m increase in value.

Overall volumes for the three quarters were boosted by a 5.2% increase in panel products imports.

All hardwood producing countries supplied less to the UK. Italy, France and Estonia have all increased market share slightly, while lower volumes from the US, the UK’s largest supplier, Cameroon and Malaysia have resulted in reduced market share.

Overall plywood imports fell by 1.7% over the nine months and while hardwood imports were down 5.9%, largely the result of a 36,000m3 reduction from China, softwood import volumes rose 7.9%.

While Finland has gained market share with hardwood plywood, the country has lost its second placed position for softwood plywood as volume from China grew 40%.

All leading chipboard suppliers have increased volume to the UK, with volumes up 35.4%, but while France, Portugal and Spain have all gained market share, losses have been experienced by Germany, Belgium and Ireland.

OSB imports are unchanged on the year, while MDF volumes are up 1.1%