Slowing UK Housing and RM&I Markets Return Timber Imports to Pre-pandemic Levels

According to the latest Timber Development UK (TDUK) statistics, a slower UK housing and RM&I market in Q1 2022 is being reflected in the timber import volumes, which dropped below the record levels seen in 2021.

TDUK data shows that while timber import volumes are nearly -20% below February 2021 levels, they remain modestly above pre-pandemic levels of February 2020. While this marks the fifth consecutive month where total timber import volumes were below the previous year, it is also a sign of a return to more expected patterns within the market.

TDUK notes that the biggest factor driving change between February 2022 and February 2021 was a -178,000 m3 decline in softwood imports, with hardwood and plywood imports up by 32% and 8% respectively.

Commenting on the report, Nick Boulton, TDUK’s Head of Technical and Trade, said:

“After the 12% construction growth and a record year for timber imports in 2021, we were always expecting more modest import volumes in the early months of 2022. Softwood imports correlate heavily with the RM&I and new housing market which has had a slow start to the year. It is likely these markets will continue to slow as we head into Spring 2022, with the latest CPA forecast suggesting that inflation will impact these construction sectors the hardest.

This is coupled with a likely slowdown in consumer confidence as the energy and cost of living crisis begins to bite in the coming months. It’s clear that companies in the wood sector will need to be more flexible in 2022 seeking out infrastructure and commercial projects in order to maintain strong growth. While overall these import volumes suggest a more ‘regular’ year for the timber market, the terrible events unfolding in Ukraine are likely to cause some market disruption.”

FEA compiles the Wood Markets News from various 3rd party sources to provide readers with the latest news impacting forest product markets. Opinions or views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of FEA.