Timbmet Comment: Q3 2019

Nigel Cox, Managing Director Timbmet is BMBI’s Expert for Timber & Panel Products.

In the continued political and economic uncertainty, little has changed since my comments in the last quarter’s report. Brexit dominates the news and, despite the fact another deadline is approaching, we are still no clearer as to whether there will be a deal or not. The extended time period has allowed distributors to plan for all eventualities and therefore product availability shouldn’t be a concern.

The uncertainty led to a weakening in demand for timber and panel products in Q3 2019 despite the good weather. This was clearly shown in the BMBI August statistics where average daily sales of the timber and joinery products category were down 5.2% year-on-year.

Hardwood timber supply of the major species is generally good with stable pricing, although exchange rate fluctuations remain a concern. The market is still being influenced by trade tariff exchanges between China and the USA which are weakening trade. It’s noticeable that demand from China has softened resulting in material becoming more readily available.
The reduction from China in its demand for red oak means there is also a good supply of this wood at an attractive price point. Historically used for internal joinery and mouldings, the demand for red oak has been increasing now that the material is easier to supply.

Medium density fibre board (MDF) and oriented strand board (OSB) availability is still good and this position is expected to continue throughout the fourth quarter. The same applies for plywood and decorative boards although buyers should be aware that a number of manufacturers will be refreshing their colour ranges over the next two quarters.

The Wood Protection Association (WPA) has recently launched its new website with a new series of fact sheets covering flame retardant (FR) products. This should prove valuable as part of the industry’s work in providing guidance on fire-rated products, particularly after two major housing fires in Barking and Worcester Park. It includes a link to the Wood Campus website – the UK’s wood industry free information and learning site – where online CPD (Continuing Professional Development) training can be undertaken.

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