The Belgian woodworking industry in 2022

Increase in timber prices puts pressure on sales

Woodworking industry sales increased 13.4% in 2022 compared to the same period of 2021. However, this is the result of a 20% decrease in production volume and rising sales prices (+33.4%) due to increased energy and raw material prices. Relative to the pre-coronavirus level, sales increased 41.1% in value ('22 vs. '19), but declined about 19% in volume with an increase in sales prices of as much as 59.8%.

All product groups except construction elements experienced an increase in sales by value in 2022. In packaging (mainly pallets), sales increased by 33.1%. Taking into account the increase in sales prices, however, this amounts to a 12.7% decrease in the volume of production. Sales of sheet materials were 12.1% higher but, in volume terms, activity was 22.8% lower (sales price increase +34.9%). Other wood processing was the only wood product group to grow in both volume (+28.6%) and value (+43%) (sales price increase +14.4%). Construction elements came in lower by both volume (-25.4%) and value (-2.2%), on a price increase of 23.2%. The timber industry and particularly the construction elements industry felt the repercussions of poorer construction activity due to the energy crisis.


Evolution of turnover by product group

Evolution in volume ‘22/’21 Evolution in value 22/21 Turnover in billion euros 2022
Wood-based panels -22,8 % 12,1 % 2,2
Wooden construction elements -25,4 % -2,2 % 1,1
Wooden Packaging -12,7 % 33,1 % 1,0
Miscellaneous wood products 28,6 % 43,0 % 0,3
WOOD INDUSTRY ** -20,0 % 13,4 % 4,6

* Provisional data / ** Timber industry nace 16.2 / Source: FPS Economy, VAT returns

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Exports increased

Belgian wood exports increased by 11.7% in 2022. 84% of these wood exports are destined for the EU market, where deliveries increased by 10.4%. The French market, accounting for 31.7% of wood exports, is the most important export market and grew by 3.2%. Wood exports to the Netherlands, the second most important market with a 19.5% share, and Germany, the third market with a 15.8% share, increased by 10.7% and 20.6%, respectively. Globally, increases were recorded in all markets except Eastern Europe. The war in Ukraine and trade sanctions against Russia and Belarus disrupted trade flows: exports to Eastern Europe -33.3% and imports from this region -21.6%.

Total wood imports increased by 6.7%. China, the largest supplier of wood products to our country with a 32.2% share, was able to supply 0.5% more.

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Higher investment and employment rates

Some companies temporarily shut down certain production lines due to high energy costs. This is reflected in the capacity utilisation rate, which in the timber industry fell from the historically high level of 88.8% in 2021 to 81.1% in 2022. Nevertheless, timber companies continued to invest heavily (+26.4% in 2022), especially in more efficient machines that are also environmentally and energy friendly. Employment rose by 209 employees to 7,960 in 2022; +2.7% compared to 2021.

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