Eleven of Sweden’s largest timber suppliers attended a Sino-Swedish Wood day in Shanghai this month aimed at increasing sales of wood for interiors on the growing Chinese market (see p9).

Swedish sawn timber exports to China are booming, with volumes predicted to increase from around 400,000m3 this year to 700,000 in 2014.

TTJ asked Swedish Wood’s international director Jan Soderlind what the dramatic increase in Chinese shipments and the Swedish sawmilling sector’s China marketing strategy could mean for established markets such as the UK.

Mr Soderlind admitted it was a tricky question and Swedish sawmillers had commercial considerations to make according to the performance of various markets, but he said Sweden’s sawmillers did not want to jeopardise 150 years of successful timber supply to the UK.

“If there will be an imbalance in volumes it will not affect the UK,” Mr Soderlind. “It will maybe be [volumes moving from] North Africa to China. There is still a political risk in North Africa and the Middle East and the sawmills will balance that risk a little.

“Sawmillers will make UK customers aware of the fact if there are higher prices in China but for the time being there is no big difference [in prices].”

“The UK is the number one market in Europe for Swedish sawmills and they will never risk that position or the Swedish domestic market.”

Mr Soderlind said long-term relationships and stable customers were still important in today’s market.

He also said Swedish Wood, the wood promotional arm of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation, has no plans to reduce its marketing budget on the UK market.

A new focus for Swedish Wood will be promoting appearance grade redwood products, a sector in which it says Sweden has lost market share during recent years.