Timber is a global industry. We are acutely aware of this in the UK as the second largest importer of timber in the world after China, and our exposure to global influences has been under the spotlight in recent months, which our members will be well aware of after last week’s Softwood Conference. While this may bring challenges, it also brings strength, particularly in the relationships we develop with partners in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Australasia – anywhere with trees!
One highlight this week was the virtual wood4bauhaus conference which brought together over 1,000 participants, including business, designers, and civil society representatives to showcase wood as a key driver in construction and living for a carbon-neutral society. A video of the entire conference and the complete programme, including a full list of the speakers, can be found here: wood4bauhaus.eu. A key insight we gained during the conference was the growth of the retrofit markets for timber, which our European partners emphasised was an area where they are seeing increasing volumes, and crucially, value, to be found in wood products.
The UK has one of the oldest building stocks in Europe. This is concerning, but also represents one of the biggest opportunities for our members in coming years. There are 28 million homes in the UK, the majority of which will need to be retrofitted to meet the incoming Future Homes Standard. Unfortunately, even many new buildings being placed on the market do not meet this standard. There must be a step change in this area if the UK is to meet its carbon reduction targets. Key to moving forward the policy conversation in this area will be the Construction Leadership Council’s National Retrofit Strategy, following the calamitous Green Homes Grants Programme.
As we move towards COP26 in Glasgow in November, we will be leveraging this event to create change, as well as working even closer with our partners around the world. A programme of work has been put in place for the conference, with a bid from the global industry being driven forward by former MEP Paul Brannen. For those who would like to learn more, I recommend having a listen to the Structural Timber Association’s (STA) Time for Timber podcast, where Paul recently sat down with STA chief executive Andrew Carpenter to discuss the activity of the industry in this area.
Finally, on the note of global trade, I would like to draw your attention to our new Statistics Hub and Interactive Timber Supply Dashboard. This new tool allows members to break timber supplies down by product group, view how many cubic metres of timber were imported in any given month and year, the different countries of dispatch, what percentage of imports this represents in a given year, and the value of these imports. We have produced a video to help walk you through how to use the new statistics dashboard – which can be found here – I recommend checking it out.
Wishing all a great weekend.
News round up for your week
Product shortages set to get worse: The Construction Leadership Council has issued a warning to the industry that shortages of building products and materials are set to get worse before they get better. “Imports of timber will be an issue for the foreseeable future. Not enough timber is being produced to meet world demand. Added to this, other countries are prepared to pay more to secure their supply, pushing the UK lower down the pecking order.” Read our press release from last week’s UK Softwood Conference for more information.
Statistics dashboard: We have created a statistics dashboard to help members gain greater insight into our timber supply statistics. The dashboard is interactive enabling users to click on different parts of the dashboard to apply filters; for example, to view total hardwood imports from Cameroon, or softwood imports from Germany. We have also produced a video walkthrough.
CPA Economic and Construction Update: The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was 58.9 in March, its highest level since February 2011. Manufacturing output increased for the tenth successive month and at the quickest rate since November 2020. New business rose at the second-fastest rate for over three years, with growth registered for consumer, intermediate and investment goods producers. Companies reported improved demand from domestic and overseas clients, rising business confidence and customers ordering early due to expectations of future price rises and further supply-chain disruption. New export business rose due to increased demand from Europe, Asia and the US.
CPA weekly notes: The Markit/CIPS PMI for construction rose to 61.7 in March, from 53.3 in February, signaling the sharpest rise in construction output since September 2014. Housebuilding (index at 64.0) remained the best-performing category, with activity rising at the fastest pace since July 2020. Activity also rose strongly in commercial (62.7) due to the resumption of previously delayed projects in hospitality, leisure and offices, and in civil engineering (58.0) due to large-scale infrastructure projects. Moreover, new orders rose at the fastest pace since September 2014 as client demand improved and contract awards progressed. Reflecting this, the rate of job creation was the strongest for over two years in March. Meanwhile, purchasing prices of construction inputs rose at the sharpest rate since August 2008 due to global demand and supply imbalances.
Monthly Statistics of Building Materials and Components: According to the BEIS, construction material price index in February for all work increased 1.7% month-on-month and was 7.0% higher than a year earlier. Construction materials prices for new housing, repair and maintenance and other new work rose 7.3%, 7.4%, and 7.0%, respectively in the year to February. In the 12 months to February, one of the materials reporting the largest price increases was imported plywood (30.4%).
Average house price hits new record high as market picks up momentum in March: According to Halifax, UK house prices rose 6.5% year-on-year in March, up from 5.2% in February, and were 1.1% higher than in February, making the first monthly increase since November 2020. The average UK house price reached a new record high of £254,606 in March.
UK Softwood Conference videos and presentations: In case you missed our email yesterday, we have created a webinar page that contains all of the videos and presentations from our speakers.
“Reforest our planet, retimber our cities”: At the virtual wood4bauhaus conference, that brought together over 1,000 participants, including business, designers and civil society representatives, Professor Schellnhuber delivered a strong message in support of a key role for wood in President Ursula von der Leyen’s New European Bauhaus. He urged we must “reforest the planet, retimber the cities” – and that “we need to create an alternative carbon sink and wood construction is the perfect answer”.
SAVE THE DATE! TTF Annual Dinner & Global Supply Conference 24 November: The TTF’s Annual Dinner, moved from March, will take place on Wednesday 24 November 2021. The glamorous event will be hosted at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City. The event will be headlined by the amazing Laura London, one of the world’s best female sleight of hand artists. One of her biggest honours was performing for Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace and on several occasions for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. She is also a highly skilled close-up magician, a cabaret performer, a motivational speaker, and an acclaimed lecturer on various aspects of the history of magic.
The Global Supply Conference will hear from speakers on panel products, hardwoods, and the softwoods market. We will be releasing more information on the Conference and the TTF Annual Dinner in due course. For the time save it to your calendar.
For more information, visit ttf.co.uk