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Seek alternatives to Russian timber

11 May 2022

Plan ahead for your plywood needs

Get ahead of supply shortages

The Russian invasion of Ukraine will inevitably cause disruption to the global timber supply chain. While timber imported from Russia and Belarus accounts for a small percentage of the total UK timber market, it makes up a larger percentage of European imports, particularly if you include imports from Ukraine, which is a major hardwood exporter into Europe.

Birch Plywood is likely to be the most directly affected product category for the UK. Russia represents the main supplier of Birch logs used to create plywood and, in 2021, the UK imported 68,600m3 of hardwood Plywood from Russia.

All Russian and Belarusian timber is now classified as conflict timber, and so is ineligible for FSC certification and trade. While there is some such timber still in the supply chain from contracts signed before the invasion began, once that stock has been exhausted, we would expect the supply chain to begin seeing pressures in some of these product areas, with Birch Plywood particularly affected.

Sourcing alternative products

In Europe, the UK gets most of its birch plywood from Finland, though Finnish manufacturers historically also use Russian logs to satisfy demand. This means they are unlikely to have sufficient raw materials of their own to make extra available. Smaller volumes of Birch are available from Latvia, Estonia and Poland, but again it is unlikely they will have much spare capacity.

We are unaware of any other global source of native Birch logs, and would warn merchants that any new sources of Birch Plywood being offered from China, Vietnam or elsewhere are likely to be using Russian logs and therefore be ineligible for trade in the UK or EU. Few alternative products can match the properties of Birch Plywood, but some possible alternatives include:

• High-quality European Poplar Plywood

• Indonesian and Malaysian Tropical Hardwood Plywood

• Canadian Douglas Fir Plywood Poplar

• Okume (Gaboon) Plywood.

Merchants looking for new product sources should contact our suppliers for support or visit

www.ttf.co.uk for the latest updates.

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