Image: BSW Timber via Timber Development UK
According to TDUK, hardwood import volumes shot up by 30% in Q1 2022 as compared to the same period in 2021 - the highest Q1 import volumes seen for this market during this century.
This growth was largely driven by lower-priced temperate hardwoods from Latvia, which saw a 15% rise in volumes compared to Q1 2021.
French oak also experienced considerable increases where imports more than doubled to reach 21,300m3, accounting for 41% of all oak imports.
Overall, oak import volumes grew by 38% and their value by 45% in Q1 2022, as compared with Q1 2021. In addition to France, significant growth also came from lower-priced oak imports from Romania, which matched volumes from Italy.
While Europe continues to dominate the market as the source for 75% of hardwood imports by volume, the North American share has fallen as Africa, Asia, and Central and South America increased their slice of the market.
“Whereas categories such as softwood have returned to more pre-pandemic levels, hardwood has witnessed a significant boom in Q1 2022," says Timber Development UK CEO, David Hopkins.
“It is evident that the pallet and packaging trade is driving much of the growth in Latvian hardwoods, with these lower-priced, more temperate species substituting typically used softwood.
“The growing Latvian volumes indicate the resilience and adaptability of our supply chain as new timber sources are found to satisfy demand.
“As for more French and tropical imports, the increase in volumes is a more normal variance often seen in the first quarter. These trade links will prove crucial in the coming months.
“While the joinery softwood market is likely to bear the brunt of the impact of the war in Ukraine, products such as Siberian Larch cladding and Birch plywood will also become difficult to source as the existing stock begins to be depleted.
“We are working with the market and our members to communicate to specifiers what alternative products will be available in the coming months. One great resource for this is ourTimber Cladding Handbook.
“The global network our members have built is set to become more important than ever as the timber industry looks to navigate an increasingly complex market.”
The full range of Timber Development UK statistics can be accessed via the company's website here.