TTF: Softwood imports rise 58% in May 2021

The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) reports that the volume of the main timber and panel products imported in May 2021 are nearly 58% higher than May 2020.

This comes as the total volume of imported timber and panel products in the five months to May 2021 exceeds 5 million m³, which is 1.5 million m³ higher than the same period in 2020.

The growth in May 2021 over the previous year follows on from the record 103% growth in April 2021 over April 2020, which we highlighted last month.

Softwood is a major driver of this growth with 3.29 million m³ of softwood imported during this time, which is about 52% higher than in the same period last year, and 13% higher than in 2019.

Hardwood import volumes over the five months to May 2021 were 18% higher than 2020 showing a strong bounce back, but at a total of 0.2 million m³, they are yet to exceed 2019 imports figures.

A similar story to hardwood imports can be seen across both plywood imports and particleboard imports. OSB and MDF import volumes have however seen significant growth.

“RMI and new build housing are the main drivers of softwood imports, and in both areas, there has been unprecedented growth – so unsurprisingly timber has followed,” said David Hopkins, TTF Chief Executive. “The softwood sector is working at full pace to meet this incredible level of demand and to help support the realisation of the CPA summer forecast for double digit growth in the construction industry – as well as the UKs economic recovery from COVID-19.

“As the pandemic eases and normal spending patterns return, with consumers spending more on going out and travelling and less on home improvement, we do expect that some of the tension in the market will be relieved. However, there continue to be many unknowns which may also affect the market. This includes rising demand from a global construction ‘supercycle’, a shortage of raw materials, skilled workers, and disrupted supply chains.”

“This makes it incredibly hard to predict the exact time we will see a resumption of more ‘regular’ activities in the UK economy, but we are confident that by Q4 a clearer picture will be formed of the timber market,” concluded Hopkins.