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Timber consumption up nearly 9%

10 Aug 11 The UK timber industry experienced growth in 2010 for the first time in three years, according to a new report by the Timber Trade Federation (TTF).

But a sharp rise in running costs and subdued demand sees many companies continuing to struggle, it warns.

The TTF Statistical Review 2011 – Industry Facts and Figures reveals a degree of recovery in 2010, with the consumption of timber and panel products reaching a level of more than 14 million cubic metres (m³).

More than 8 million m3of softwood were consumed in 2010, exceeding the volumes consumed in 2009 and 2008. The volume of timber and panels consumed in the UK increased in 2010 to around 14.11 million m3, a rise of 8.7%. This increase in consumption was the first for three years.

Consumption of solid timbers (softwood and hardwood) rose by 8.5% to 8.58 million m3in 2010 (7.91 million m3in 2009) and the volume of all panel products consumed amounted to 5.53 million m3 compared to 5.07 million m3in 2009, an increase of 9.0% over 2009.

Despite the recovery in volume in 2010, overall consumption remains below the level of 2008 (14.47 million m3) and the prerecessionary volume in 2007 of over 18 million m3.

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The import sector grew by 8.4% in volume, to 8.37 million m3, while UK production increased by 9.2% to 6.45 million m³. As a result, the industry rose in value by just over 20% to £3.13 billion.

At the same time, the prices of raw materials, energy and other goods and services have climbed dramatically – making it more difficult for companies to achieve adequate returns, the TTF said. Furthermore, the 2010 recovery was largely concentrated in the first half of the year. The import sector, for example, grew by 13% year on year in the first six months of 2010, but only by 3% in the second six months.

TTF chief executive John White said: “While 2010 was, thankfully, an improvement on the two previous years, demand remains subdued in many markets. The UK timber industry is still challenged by the weak economic recovery.”

The TTF Statistical Review 20011 – Industry Facts and Figures can be downloaded here.

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