TTF Timber Topics - Winter 2020 - Plan for longer lead times in 2021Posted on 11 Jan 2021
Timber supply dynamics are changing
Plan ahead for longer lead times at least until end of Q2, 2021
Builders merchants are facing supply shortages in key softwood and panel product categories and these are likely to continue well into 2021. With many products now being sold on pre-planned customer allocations, merchants are advised to get in contact with suppliers now to talk through their needs for 2021. Volumes are likely to be available but on much longer lead times. Merchants who continue with just-in-time ordering patterns are unlikely to be able to access the volumes of stock previously obtainable through spot purchasing.
Normally, sawmills would replenish their stocks over the traditionally quiet time of November/ December when there is less activity in the building trade. With strong demand continuing, and sawmill stocks already depleted, there is less time to replenish the normal levels of stock available on the ground in the UK.
Competition from other sectors
Import logistics are also becoming an issue. The lack of haulage vehicles, and, in some cases, vessels, due to increased competition from other industries also trying to beat any customs-linked disruption, is putting further pressure on short and longer-term supply. Continuing supply pressures are also creating an upward pricing trend.
Carcassing & CLS in global demand
Structural timbers such as carcassing and CLS are in high demand internaionally, especially in the USA. Landed stock in the UK had mostly been used up by late summer; suppliers have since been unable to rebuild stocks on the ground back to their usual levels. Only 40% of structural timbers are produced in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The 60% of structural timbers which are imported from Europe mainly come in on large vessels, but new customs procedures and documentation may take some time to bed in. Lead times may also worsen when sawmills take their winter break.
The key points for merchants are as follows:
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