UK’s softwood imports to fall in 2018, future housing market in jeopardy

The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) has published its Softwood Import Forecast for 2018, which shows that growth is expected to slump to just 0.5% in 2017-2018.

 The UK’s softwood import for 2018 is forecast to contract in 2017-2018, registering growth of only 0.5 per cent.

From 2016-2017, growth in softwood imports grew by 3.7 per cent, from 6,219,000m³ to 6,451,000m³, and annual growth in the sector has remained at a similar level since 2012.

The expected contraction is likely due to pricing issues caused by the depreciation in Sterling Pound following Brexit.

Timber frame construction in housing has seen rapid growth in recent years, now accounting for over a quarter of the construction market. Wood imports are a good indicator of the housing market’s health since it is a vital material in residential development, home refurbishment and improvement. If the timber market contracts, this will cause the rest of the construction industry to contract too, weakening its ability to respond to growing housing demand.

A commitment from the Chancellor to invest in housebuilding in the Autumn Budget would provide certainty to the timber industry and enable it to continue its growth. In turn, this will place the UK in a stronger position to build more homes in the coming years.

David Hopkins, Managing Director of the TTF said, “We’re calling on the Government to prioritise investment in building new homes. This will help to reverse the worrying contraction in growth, and enable our sector to play its part in tackling the housing crisis.”

At present, the timber industry forms a £9 billion supply chain in the UK, supporting over 150,000 jobs.