Timber prices in the UK are very sensitive to market conditions both in Europe and the rest of the world. We take a look at the latest factors that are impacting on UK timber prices.
Here at Challenge we strongly believe in being transparent with all our customers. So, when we face the difficult decision to increase our prices on certain products, we always try to explain the wider market context that has led to the increase, rather than just saying our suppliers are charging us more!
Take sawn timber for example. It may surprise you but the UK is the world’s second biggest net importer (imports less exports) of forest products – only China imports more and our timber imports have been increasing every year for the last 5 years. Combine this with a gradual fall in our own domestic timber production and our UK timber mills and ultimately our suppliers are becoming increasingly exposed to global timber factors.
For example, China has demanded more timber from Europe, the UK’s first option for supply, due to sanctions imposed on Canada, China’s favoured first option for timber. This alone has increased demand, reducing supply & therefore increased prices. Add to this an improving economy in Western Europe driving demand, exchange rate volatility making imports more expensive and our own government’s increased new homes target, many of which are being built using timber-frame techniques and you can see why timber prices are on the increase.
And that’s not all! Latvia has always been an important log supplier to the UK. However, a particularly wet summer last year made log extraction difficult and supply from Latvia has fallen. This is being compounded by a sharpe increase in sea freight and road transport costs and an increased demand for wood to meet the UK government’s incentivised biomass industry.
So, the next time you see a small percentage increase in our product prices, there are many worldwide factors that have an impact on the cost of our gravel boards or fence posts. It is also very likely we are absorbing some of this ourselves so we can continue to offer a good supply of very high quality timber products at competitive prices – but yes mainly it’s due to the weather (in Latvia)!
Data Source: www.forestry.gov.uk