High standards, high ambitions
The Dutch, along with many of their fellow Europeans, prioritised vacations over DIY projects in the summer of 2021, in contrast to the previous year, reports Carl-Johan Nilsson, Södra Wood’s sales manager for Benelux. The quieter-than-anticipated summer allowed Södra to recover somewhat from a very tight stock situation.
The Netherlands is a strong whitewood sawn timber market for Södra and is one of the company’s main export destinations. There is good growth potential thanks to the increasing popularity of timber in the country for construction, driven to a large extent by environmental considerations. The established market for roof trusses, joists and internal construction elements provide robust underlying demand from building companies whose order books are generally healthy going forward. One issue potentially delaying projects is a shortage of skilled carpenters.
The background is the Dutch economy which has proved relatively resilient during the pandemic and is expected to experience solid GDP growth in 2022, driven particularly by private consumption. Residential construction is expected to fare well next year.
Merchants account for the majority of Södra’s customers in The Netherlands, and they are particularly adept at predicting demand. This forecasting ability served them well during the 2020/2021 period of exceptionally high demand. Product consistency is highly prized among these merchants’ customers – Södra recognises that consistency of supply and quality are essential to sustaining long and productive relationships with merchants. And unlike in some other European countries, merchants in The Netherlands are traditionally flexible about the variety of lengths they buy.
Traceability and certification are paramount, with 80 percent of the market demanding FSC. The majority of Södra’s members’ forests are FSC and PEFC certified, which counts a lot for Dutch customers, along with knowledge that Södra members value biodiversity, plant at least three trees for each harvested and that the wood is processed in modern, fossil-fuel-free facilities.