THE continual growth of the volume of timber imports into the UK came to an end in October last year, paving the way towards stability, an industry body has said. 

However, statistics released by the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) show the overall year-on-year figure between January and October 2021 was still 28 per cent higher than the same period in 2020 – reaching a total of 10.3 million m3. 

In a significant shift, October 2021's volume was 16 per cent lower than in the same month in 2020, ending more than 15 months of continual growth in UK imports of timber and panel products.

READ MORE: Forest Research's Timber Price Indices: Softwood sawlog leads the way

Softwood import volumes reflected these changes, with just 557,000m3 entering the UK in October 2021 – which is very close to the average volume of softwood imports seen between 2015 to 2018 (559,000m3).

Nick Boulton, TTF head of technical and trade policy, said: “After such a long period of volatility in the structural softwood sector, it is good to see the October import statistics showing a return to stability.

“As predicted throughout, with stocks having been replenished throughout the supply chain we are seeing price pressure reduce and import volumes return to more normal parameters.  

“This suggests an end to some of the market disruption we saw last year where our industry was working above and beyond to ensure exceptionally high construction demand was met.

“However, the market is still some way off ‘normality’ as Brexit, HGV driver shortages and Covid-19 disruption continue to affect supply and demand, as well as labour availability.

“Given the increasing demand for low-carbon construction products to help us build in a climate crisis, timber will remain an essential sector to building back better in 2022.”

According to Forest Research, the UK remains the world's second-largest importer of timber, ahead of the likes of Japan, India, and Italy.