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Timber prices

Timber Price Indices are based on sales of softwood (conifers) by the Forestry Commission and Natural Resources Wales and are released every 6 months. They cover:

  • Sales in England and Scotland by the Forestry Commission; and
  • Sales in Wales by the Forestry Commission to 31 March 2013 and by Natural Resources Wales from 1 April 2013.

The Coniferous Standing Sales Price Index monitors changes in the average price received per cubic metre for timber that the Forestry Commission/ Natural Resources Wales sold standing, where the purchaser is responsible for harvesting.

The Softwood Sawlog Price Index monitors changes in the average price received per cubic metre of sawlogs (roundwood with a top diameter of 14 cm or more, destined to be sawn into planks or boards) sold at roadside by the Forestry Commission/ Natural Resources Wales.

The Softwood Sawlog Price Index was revised in May 2017 to correct a number of inconsistencies in the coverage of the underlying data. Further details are available in the National Statistics First Release Timber Price Indices: Data to March 2017.

Standing timber and sawlogs are distinct markets, and may show different price movements. The data are averages for historic periods, so may be slow to show any turning points.

These indices are used to monitor trends in timber prices and to provide information on the state of the UK timber industry. They are also used by the UK timber industry, alongside other economic indicators, in contract reviews.

There is little other information currently available on wood prices before primary processing and no price index is available for broadleaves. Prices for outputs of primary wood processing are collected by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the Producer Price Indices (PPIs), and these are available in the MM22 Business Monitor which gives detailed PPIs monthly.

Table 8.1 presents the coniferous standing sales and sawlog price indices for Great Britain to March 2017.

The coniferous standing sales price index for Great Britain was 9.7% higher in real terms in the year to March 2017, compared with the previous year (Table 8.1). The softwood sawlog price index was 15.7% higher in real terms in the 6 months to March 2017, compared with the corresponding period in the previous year.

Table 8.1 Coniferous standing sales and sawlog price indices1for Great Britain, 2012-2017

Period ending March Standing sales2  Sawlogs 
  Nominal terms3 Real terms4 Nominal terms3 Real terms4
index (period to September 2016 = 100)
2012 83.9 89.6 93.1 99.8
2013 78.6 82.2 91.7 96.0
2014 90.9 93.5 105.0 108.4
2015 108.8 110.3 119.5 122.3
2016 98.5 99.2 93.6 94.9
2017 110.0 108.8 110.8 109.8

      

Source: Timber Price Indices: data to March 2017

Notes:

1. The price indices are constructed from information on sales by the Forestry Commission/ Natural Resources Wales only.

2. The standing sales index uses the Fisher method with 5 year chain linking to take account of changes in the size mix over time.

3. Nominal prices are the actual prices at that point in time.

4. Real terms values are obtained by using the GDP deflator to convert to “constant prices” (in this case prices in 2016). This allows trends in timber prices to be tracked without the influence of inflation.

5. Data for the period to March 2017 excludes sales by Natural Resources Wales in March 2017.

     

Figure 8.1 Coniferous standing sales and sawlog price indices1,2in real terms3, 2012-2017

fs2017fig8-1.png

    

Source: Timber Price Indices: data to March 2017

Notes:

1. The price indices are constructed from information on sales by the Forestry Commission/ Natural Resources Wales only.

2. The standing sales index uses the Fisher method with 5 year chain linking to take account of changes in the size mix over time.

3. Real terms values are obtained by using the GDP deflator to convert to “constant prices” (in this case prices in 2016). This allows trends in timber prices to be tracked without the influence of inflation.

4. Data for the period to March 2017 excludes sales by Natural Resources Wales in March 2017.

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