Get Your Quotation

  Home:  Global Wood   Industry News & Markets

Wood Products Prices in The UK 

01-15th March 2008

Report from the UK  


European demand for tropical hardwoods remains slack
Reports from around north-western Europe suggest
subdued demand for tropical hardwoods. Europe¡¯s tropical
log imports continue to decline while demand for sawn
lumber in countries throughout the region - including UK,
Ireland, Benelux and Germany - is described at best as
stable. Some suggest that sales of tropical sawn lumber in
the region are down from the same period last year.
Economic uncertainty is sapping confidence in future sales
and encouraging importers to be cautious over restocking.
Nevertheless, the spring season is approaching which, with
its promise of increased construction activity, may provide
at least some short-term improvement in demand.

The UK hardwood market is generally described as ¡®tough
going¡¯. With the end of the financial year for many
importers (end of March), combined with general
uncertainty about future levels of demand this year, many
companies are now off-loading stock. In a highly
competitive environment, there is little concern for
replacement cost and market prices for some key
hardwood products on the ground in the UK have been
weakening. Against this background, there is little
incentive for buyers to enter the forward market for
tropical hardwoods. Where occasional holes are opening
up in stock, most buyers are looking to the large
distributors in the Netherlands and Belgium to satisfy their
short-term needs.

As for individual species, prices for sapele sawn lumber
have been falling since the start of the year, both for
forward orders and for stock already on the ground in
north-western Europe. FOB prices quoted to German
importers for 52 mm FAS AD sapele boards have fallen
from levels of around EUR645-EUR660 in December
2007 to stand at around EUR590-EUR620. Whereas
delivered prices (inclusive of commission) for 1¡± KD
sapele boards in the UK were hovering around
GBP665/m³ at the start of the year, quotes as low as
GBP600/m³ may now be obtained. However, one leading
agent notes that buyers should be wary of the cheapest
prices as ¡®a lot of people are doing silly things with
measures¡¯ to give the appearance of providing a
competitive price.

European demand for sipo is generally slack and prices
have been slipping. Prices are in a wide range, to a large
extent dependant on whether stock is from Côte d¡¯Ivoire
or Cameroon, the latter tending to offer superior texture
and density. FOB prices for 52 mm FAS AD sipo boards
quoted to German importers currently stand in the region
EUR725/m³ to EUR775/m³. UK delivered prices inclusive
of commission for FAS KD sipo boards are currently
being quoted in the range GBP645/m³ to GBP685/m³.

The iroko market in the UK is generally described as
stable, but the important Irish market for this species is
very quiet. Prices are generally described as stable. FOB
prices for 52 mm FAS AD iroko boards quoted to German
importers currently stand in the region EUR570/m³ to

Demand for Côte d¡¯Ivoire framire in the UK is variously
described as ¡®weak¡¯ or ¡®stable¡¯ with delivered prices
generally falling. One UK agent gave a price indication of
around GBP505/m³ for FAS KD stock delivered inclusive
of commission, but also noted that prices are all over the
place at present. It seems that after a lengthy period of
tight supply, the Côte d¡¯Ivoire is at last shipping some old
contracts to Europe. FOB prices now being quoted to
German importers for AD stock are in the region of
EUR570/m³ to EUR600/m³.

There are some reports that demand for African
whitewood species ¨C such as ayous/wawa and koto ¨C is
marginally better than that for African redwoods driven by
reasonable activity in the mouldings and sauna industries.
This combined with restricted supply of some species has
led to reasonably firm pricing. Demand for wenge from
the European flooring sector is also reasonably buoyant at

Meranti lumber prices quoted to European buyers have
changed little since the start of the year. European demand
for Asian sawn lumber is subdued due to sluggish activity
in the construction sector. However, this is generally
balanced by limited supply. Overall forward availability is
generally regarded as being tight, with mills cutting back
on already limited production over the Chinese New Year
period and now with heavy rain affecting logging
operations in major supply regions. The weakness of the
dollar against the euro has meant that Asian lumber prices
have generally been competitive in the European market
against African alternatives in recent months. However,
price decreases for sapele and sipo since the start of the
year have been eroding this price advantage.

Prices for bangkarai/balau decking being quoted to
European buyers also seem to be stable. On-ground
demand in Europe generally picks up at this time of year
as the weather improves. However European traders do
not expect any significant upturn in forward orders as
existing stocks at European ports are generally regarded as
adequate to meet this demand.

Chinese plywood supplies become difficult to access in UK
The main news from the UK plywood market is that
supplies of Chinese plywood are becoming more and more
difficult. Poor weather in China has been a major shortterm
factor, but a more important long-term structural
factor is the gradual removal of tax benefits for Chinese
exporters, which is particularly undermining the ability of
smaller Chinese mills to compete in the UK market. Other
problems facing Chinese mills supplying the UK market
are increased competition for wood raw material in China,
rising labor and fuel costs, and the difficulties of supplying
environmentally certified products from China due to the
complexity of supply chains. Longer term, there is an
expectation that Chinese mills supplying the UK market
may increasingly replace core veneers made from poplar,
which are becoming less readily available and are difficult
to certify, with core veneer made from eucalyptus or
radiata pine.

Freight rates from Asia into the European market are also
rising. While FOB prices for Chinese plywood have
remained reasonably stable, CIF prices to European
importers are increasing.

Malaysia and Brazil are the major beneficiaries of Chinese
supply problems in the UK market. Malaysia is benefiting
particularly from its ability to supply high quality material,
increasing volumes of which are FSC certified, and to
exploit a lower GSP tax rate than Indonesia. Brazilian
shippers are benefiting from relatively short shipping
times in addition to low GSP rates.

Despite economic uncertainty, some UK plywood
importers contacted for this report indicate that underlying
plywood consumption is holding up reasonably well in the
UK. Importers that have become too reliant on Chinese
product have been suffering, but those able to offer a wide
variety of product from a diversity of supply areas,
including certified products, are picking up business.

One interesting development in recent months in the UK
panels market is that some of the largest UK plywood
agents are now taking trial shipments of Chinese MDF and
OSB. These are products which have traditionally been
supplied from Europe¡¯s large domestic composite panels
industry. European importers have been encouraged to
take this step following recent Chinese investment in the
panels industry which is now offering very competitively
priced product to European buyers. UK importers note that
the quality of Chinese composite panels is currently
nowhere near good enough to satisfy the demands of
European manufacturers that need their raw materials to
meet very demanding specifications (consistency,
thickness, color, texture etc). However the products may
well be appropriate as merchant grade material for onward
sales to the joinery and DIY trade.



LM       Loyale Merchant, a grade of log parcel  Cu.m         Cubic Metre
QS        Qualite Superieure    Koku         0.278 Cu.m or 120BF
CI          Choix Industriel                                                       FFR           French Franc
CE         Choix Economique                                                        SQ              Sawmill Quality
CS         Choix Supplimentaire      SSQ            Select Sawmill Quality
FOB      Free-on-Board     FAS            Sawnwood Grade First and
KD        Kiln Dry                               Second 
AD        Air Dry        WBP           Water and Boil Proof
Boule    A Log Sawn Through and Through MR              Moisture Resistant
              the boards from one log are bundled                      pc         per piece      
              together                      ea                each      
BB/CC  Grade B faced and Grade C backed MBF           1000 Board Feet          
              Plywood   MDF           Medium Density Fibreboard
BF        Board Foot F.CFA         CFA Franc        
Sq.Ft     Square Foot              Price has moved up or down

Source: ITTO'  Tropical Timber Market Report

CopyRight (C) Global Wood Trade Network. All rights reserved.