TIMCON: Further Challenges Ahead for Timber-Based Industries

The testing conditions facing the timber manufacturing industry show no signs of abating – and there are more challenging times ahead, according to the Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation (TIMCON).

Speaking at TIMCON’s Annual General Meeting in York, president John Dye detailed how 2010 saw another demanding year for the industry, which found itself up against issues on a number of fronts, including availability of raw materials, rising prices, biomass subsidies, potential threats from alternative packaging and a shortage of reconditioned pallets. Mr Dye continued that, almost halfway into 2011, these continued to concern the organisation and its members.

Price and supply are posing a problem on an international scale, he said, although in countries such as Germany and Turkey the sector was still achieving good growth – 3.6 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively in 2010.

Meanwhile, the threat posed to the timber packaging and pallet market by plastics is intensifying and was becoming litigious – particularly in the US. “It’s not just the manufacturers who have to be alert to these threats,” said Mr Dye, “the sawmillers must also take note and be aware of the threat to their market.”

Corrugated board alternatives also have the potential to dent the market share of timber, if the industry does not communicate the relative benefits of the latter, said Mr Dye. Communication, particularly to politicians, would also be increasingly important to ensure that the distorting effects of subsidising biomass fuels heavily is understood by key players in the months ahead.

Mr Dye added that TIMCON had worked hard to ensure that the interests of the UK industry are prominent both at home and internationally. “The work TIMCON is doing in areas including the wood marking scheme, political lobbying, information films, newsletters and reports, is something we should be very proud of,” he said, “and through the active involvement of TIMCON at the Technical and Policy meetings and the high regard of our work within FEFPEB, the UK is being well represented and listened to, which is highly beneficial to our members.”

Back in the UK, TIMCON is collaborating with other timber industry sectors to coordinate messages on key issues such as alternative materials and biomass. The meeting heard from Alistair Kerr, director general of the Wood Panel Industries Federation about its political lobbying efforts and Make Wood Work campaign to promote the benefits of timber in this sector. Both TIMCON and the WPIF organisations on same track with their core messages about the benefits of using timber in their respective industries, he said.

At the meeting Mr Dye also expressed gratitude to Roddie Burgess, who recently retired from the Forestry Commission, particularly for his work, along with Graham Nicklin (past TIMCON president) and the now also retired John Mead, (past President of TIMCON) on establishing the UK wood marking scheme.

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