Nigel Cox, Managing Director Timbmet is BMBI’s Expert for Timber & Panel Products.
The second quarter saw weaker year-on-year growth in the demand for timber and panel products, although the product sector continued to outperform many. It was inevitable that stockpiling would occur prior to 31st March and this impacted on the second quarter’s performance. Political and economic uncertainty is continuing, and consumer confidence is low, and little will change over the coming months with the current No Deal Brexit rhetoric.
The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) recently reminded members of the risks that a No Deal Brexit will bring. Their guidance will help contingency planning as we consider the actions to mitigate the impacts of exiting with no terms. While we should expect delays, as shipments clear ports, product availability shouldn’t be a concern.
The global markets for hardwood are still fragmented. Trade conflicts between the USA and China continue to build, and there has been a weakening of demand for European supply. Availability across the species is good although many mills are managing their output with lower demand, specifically from China. African timber supply has improved over recent months with increasing demand for sapele.
Medium Density Fibre board (MDF) and Oriented Strand Board (OSB) availability is much improved on last year. Availability during the quarter was strong and is forecasted to continue. Similarly plywood availability remains good. The concern, regardless of product, will be the impact caused by a volatile exchange rate.
The TTF, Wood Protection Association (WPA) and Timber Decking and Cladding Association (TDCA) continue to work together to help provide guidance on fire-rated products post Grenfell and Barking. Through the Confederation of Timber Industries, it has been recommended that timber-based cladding and balcony components should be treated using a quality assured factory-applied flame retardant to Euroclass B. This is unless it is shown not to be necessary by an appropriate risk assessment process.
Merchants are reminded to ask suppliers for appropriate Declarations of Performance, a requirement under the Construction Products Regulation, providing information on the performance of the product.