UK wood-based products imports jump in 2014, particleboard and OSB imports see highest growth of 24%

UK’s demand for imported timber and wood-based panel imports jumped 15% to 9.66 million m3 in 2014, according to the UK Timber Trade Federation Statistical Review 2015. 

Led by the recovery in the construction sector, this stronger demand raised the share of imported consumption to 60% in 2014, the first time such a level was achieved since the 2008 recession.

Softwood imports

Softwood imports rose 17% to 5.93 million m3, driven by Sweden (+13%); Latvia (+21%); Finland (+15%); the Republic of Ireland (+9%); Germany (+31%); and Russia (+23%). Together these top six exporters accounted for around 92% of the UK’s softwood imports.

The volume of softwood plywood from Brazil increased 10%, raising its market share to nearly 50% and cementing the South American country’s position as the leading softwood plywood supplier to the UK. Volume from Chile increased by around 60%, claiming 7% of the market share in 2014.

Hardwood imports

Hardwood imports increased 22% to 90,000m3 in 2014. The USA was leading supplier of hardwoods to the UK, achieving a 15% growth in 2014. Shipments from Cameroon, the second largest exporting country, were down by 2% in 2014. France achieved a 12% growth, while imports from Italy fell by about 4%.

The highest percentage increases in volumes came from Estonia and the Republic of Ireland. Imports from Estonia increased nearly 50% while the Republic of Ireland more than doubled shipments to the UK in 2014 – albeit from a relatively low base.

As in 2013, hardwood plywood imports grew only very slightly, less than one half of one percent. At less than half the volume of hardwood plywood, softwood plywood imports in 2014 were higher by nearly 5%.

Hardwood plywood exporting countries experienced mixed fortune in 2014. Of the leading countries, only China and Russia exported more volume to the UK: a 4% and 5% increase respectively. In contrast, volume from Malaysia was sharply lower, down by 12% and also from Finland, down by 17%.

Wood-based panel imports

Panel products imports rose 10%, with particleboard and OSB imports the fastest growing panel products rising by around 24%.

France supplier the UK with around 40% more particleboard than in 2013, but good growth was also achieved by Portugal, Belgium and Spain. Whilst the Republic of Ireland maintains a dominant position in the supply of OSB imports to the UK, strong growth was achieved in 2014 by Latvia and Lithuania.

MDF imports were 16% higher in 2014, with all the leading countries of supply increasing volume shipped to the UK. The Republic of Ireland exported the greatest volume, holding the position as the UK’s leading trading partner in MDF. Imports of MDF from Ireland increased in 2014 by around 22%.

Good growth was also achieved by the other leading countries: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Poland.


Source: UK Timber Trade Federation Statistical Review 2015/ Edited by Panels & Furniture Asia