Nigel Cox, Managing Director Timbmet is BMBI’s Expert for Timber & Panel Products.
The third quarter of 2018 continued to see strong year-on-year growth for timber and panel products reflected in the BMBI statistics, influenced by good weather and strong demand from the construction sector.
Brexit remains firmly in the headlines as we move closer to the 29th March 2019. Preparing for the outcome is difficult but, as an industry, options are being explored regardless of the final outcome. The Timber Trade Federation has produced a “Step by Step Guide to a ‘No Deal’ Brexit”. In addition, lobbying of government has resulted in a commitment to strengthen the timber trade and minimise additional costs on import and export timber.
Hardwood timber supply over the major species is generally good with stable pricing, although exchange rate fluctuations remain a concern. North American supply is still a concern following the US/China trade war but wood is available. The African supply situation remains difficult with internal transport and shipping costs impacting on availability.
Demand has increased for larch cladding rather than cedar due to high cedar prices over the last 12 months. Prime European oak continues popular for high quality joinery and mouldings; lower grade character oak has seen growth in other market sectors. Ash, maple and walnut are very much back in vogue in kitchens with good demand. Hardwood decking has performed well this season as a popular alternative to composite decking options.
Engineered timber for windows and doors in softwood, red hardwood and European oak is continuing to see good growth, with customers recognising the cost benefits.
Panel products have seen an improved position in the availability of MDF (medium density fibreboard) and OSB (oriented strand board) and pricing has stabilised. No further price increases are expected in 2018. P5 flooring chipboard supply has also improved in Q3 with further supply to come online in Q4. P2 furniture grade chipboard supply remains tight with the majority of supply coming from central European mills. Plywood supply is currently challenging with availability, quality and price all a concern.