Softwoods are strong, but there’s still room for growth

By 2019, we should have passed a “milestone in today’s housing market” – softwoods could reap the benefit

In 2017, UK softwood imports grew by 8.2% to 6.7 million m3. This is great news for the timber industry, but softwoods still haven’t reached their pre-recession levels. In 2007, the UK imported 7.9 million m3.

This signifies something important: there’s still room for growth in the UK softwood market. Given that UK consumption also rose by 5.7% last year (to 10.23 million m3), the statistics agree.

There are positive signs from the UK’s construction industry. In 2017, it saw a rise of 7% to 198,000 units in housing starts, but again, this falls short of pre-financial crisis figures, indicating room for further growth (in 2006, the UK saw 233,600 units). The UK also recorded a 2.1% increase in mortgage approvals – all good news.

Nick Moore, a UK timber statistician with Timbertrends, put some meat on the bones when it comes to the numbers. He said: “next year we should have eclipsed the 200,000 units per year mark, which is a bit of a milestone in today’s housing market.”

Mr. Moore was talking at the Timber Trade Federation’s Annual Softwood Conference – a thriving forum for the discussion of latest developments in the UK softwood market.

While the forum saw a raft of positive statistics, one shadow loomed over proceedings. Many of the participants sought to address this shadow during questions, asking how Brexit would affect the industry.

Norvik Industries CEO Sampsa Auvinen addressed these concerns head on, saying: “I do not have a clue what is going to happen. But personally I think sanity will prevail. There will be more difficult negotiations but there will be a deal that is acceptable to all parties and the UK will continue to import from European countries.”

He added: “What if the nightmare situation happened and imports drop 1 – 2 million m3? Would it be a disaster? No.”

With softwood experiencing a resurgence, and the UK housing market appearing strong, it is a perfect time to consider whether your customers may benefit from considering it for their projects.

Quercus supplies a variety of softwoods, and is always available to offer any help you may need. Simply get in touch via the contact details on this website, and we’d be happy to talk to you.