The TTF said a lack of stock on the ground was set to be an issue well into Q2 of 2021 and beyond due to pandemic-related issues and changes in market dynamics, exacerbated by high levels of global demand for timber and wood products.

Companies without a longer-term purchasing strategy will struggle to replenish stocks through just-in-time buying in Q1 and Q2, 2021, the TTF added.

“Pre-COVID, timber buyers were used to their being plentiful landed stocks available to meet immediate demand,” explained David Hopkins, TTF CEO.

“Suppliers were also used to having time over traditionally quite periods in the trade to re-build stocks for the following season. This situation has now been turned on its head. It is understandable that many customers should be surprised by, and angry about, the new reality we are facing together. The reported price inflation has also made it difficult for some manufacturers to accurately price projects for customers."

The TTF reassured the sector that volume supplies were available, though on longer lead times than normal.

“This situation will be with us well into 2021 so we advise contacting your suppliers to discuss meeting your needs for the year ahead. The challenge going forward will be to achieve the balanced product mix needed by the market, a factor which may be further complicated by the haulage demands and new customs and plant health procedures engendered by Brexit.”

Many TTF members are continuing to operate on customer allocations so material can be distributed as equally as possible.

Merchants, manufacturers and building contractors are advised to contact their supplier to discuss future needs, and similarly to become more aware of the factors influencing suppliers’ capacity to meet demand.

Import logistics, especially with the end of the Brexit transition period and the new arrangements with the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, may add further pressures on supplies, as the timber sector will need to compete with many other industries in obtaining road haulage capacity within the UK.