As the UK’s timber business event of the year, Timber Expo attracts visitors and exhibitors from across the globe but why do industry leaders and innovators travel from such far flung places as Canada, India, America both North and South, as well as Africa and even China?
You would expect the leading European timber producing nations to make the trip but clearly there must be some compelling reason why long-haul travellers make this epic journey.
Perhaps the answer lies in the significant business opportunities presented?
Wood maybe one of the world’s oldest building materials but it is now also one of the most advanced. Currently being hailed as the ultimate sustainable solution – timber is renewable, stores carbon for the life of the building and when used for offsite construction is typically 30% faster than traditional construction methods.
The value of the UK timber sector is over £8.5 billion per year, with forestry and timber ranked within the top 20 manufacturing industries. The Timber Trade Federation reported this year that 7.81 million cubic metres – more than half the timber used in the UK – is imported. Over 47% of the timber and engineered timber panel products consumed were imported from Europe and the remaining imports (in order of quantity) were from Asia, Central & South America, North America and Africa.
Hardwood imports come from a variety of regions. Europe fulﬁls approximately half of UK demand followed closely by North America with roughly 30%, then Africa, Asia, Central and South America.
The answer lies within these statistics and the opportunity is being recognised on a global scale.
The demand for engineered timber is on the increase as the UK requires more sustainable homes and commercial buildings. There is a broad level of agreement amongst experts, including the Construction Industry Council and governmental bodies, that there is a shortfall in housing stock which is not predicted to improve with traditional construction solutions. The Offsite Housing Review states that to ‘crack this market,’ developers will need to innovate to build better houses faster and only by embracing structural timber solutions will this shortfall be eradicated.
Timber Expo Event Director Loretta Sales commented:
“With a significant reliance on timber imports, the UK market is looking to new international and importing UK companies to supply innovative products and services. The UK construction market is returning to strength and is hungry for new technology and new supply-chains.
“But this is not a one-way opportunity – our UK exhibitors have the opportunity to showcase their products and services on both a local and global platform. Last year, in our Buyers & Specifiers Forum, we welcomed an Indian entrepreneur looking to develop their timber frame construction sector – such meetings present ‘game changing’ opportunities and again this year we are looking forward to welcoming exhibitors from home and overseas.”
International exhibitors past and present include: Anhui Sentai WPC New Material from China, American Softwoods and Deckwise International from the USA, Ghana Forestry Commission, Ontario Wood from Canada, Hess Timber and Pollmeier Massivholz from Germany, Vandecasteele Houtimport and SpanoTech from Belgium, Johann Pabst Holzindustrie and Wiehag Timber Construction from Austria and last year the CBI Centre for the Promotion of Import from developing Countries created the Bolivian Pavilion where 12 companies from across Bolivia exhibited hardwoods and custom-made products.