Timber Trades Federation Conference reveals pandemic’s effects on softwood timber supply chains


Strong global demand for softwood means that supply will continue to be tight in 2021 in the UK, and may well tighten further, it was revealed at the UK Timber Trades Federation’s spring Softwood Conference, held online at the end of March.

Rather than viewing the current situation as a temporary spike before returning to old levels, merchants and contractors should be prepared to see this as the new normal, Timber Trade Federation CEO David Hopkins commented following the conference: “Historically the UK has seen high stock levels and a fairly easy supply situation. What is now clear is that this has changed dramatically and is unlikely to return to “normal” anytime soon. The predictions are that demand will outstrip supply for some years to come meaning all points in the chain will have to examine their purchasing and stock holding strategies, to keep on top of their market.”

The growth in global demand for timber plus the changes in UK market dynamics due to the on-going pandemic were fully evident in presentations given by speakers from timber-producing countries across Europe. Speakers covering the global market for softwoods, as well as the supply perspectives from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Ireland and Britain, all delivered the same message to the market: softwood demand is still at record levels internationally and little additional sawmilling capacity is available to scale-up production and thus remedy the imbalance. Supply will remain tight, and high international prices being paid for timber are likely to continue to exert an influence on pricing here in the UK.

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