The Global Wooden Pallet Market
20 Dec 2016
After the sluggish world economy of the past five years, the upturn in manufacturing will see global sales in the pallet market growing by almost six per cent by the end of the decade, according to research by the advisory company Technavio.
The UK showed greater resilience than some countries throughout the economic downturn, at a time when every sector was affected. Despite a period of fluctuations in the cost of timber, wooden pallets are still the most popular choice and account for 90 per cent of the pallet market, though there has been more emphasis on retrieval, recycling and repairs than the production of new ones.
However, the global market for wood pallets is determined by factors specific to each region, and some areas are showing more growth than others.
The market for pallets in Germany has been described as satisfactory with regards to volume, but as manufacturing increases in the developed markets, the demand is set to increase. Meanwhile, there has been a downward pressure on prices, largely attributed to lower fuel and timber costs, which has seen the cost of pallets drop about five per cent.
The Middle East
Demand for pallets in the Middle East is reported to be stable, but in a region where it is common for pallets to be made by hand, the profit margins tend to be thin due to the poor quality of the products.
Brazil is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing markets in the world, and the growth in demand for wood pallets is consistent with its economic expansion. In Argentina, wood pallets account for 95 per cent of the total market, but while there was previously a ratio of approximately 60:40 in favour of new pallets against recycled ones, that figure has now levelled out to approximately 50:50.
When productivity and shipments fell in the US as it went through the economic crisis of 2007-2009, there was an abundance of pallets not being used. This was followed by a period of gains amounting to nine per cent in 2008-2014, when the US economy began to recover. According to research by Global Information, the number of pallets in the US is expected to increase by almost two per cent annually and will reach 2.6 billion units by 2019. The demand for both refurbished and new pallets is expected to grow, but while wood accounts for 84 per cent of the total stock, there is a move towards plastic pallets in the food and pharmaceutical sectors, as they are less prone to fungal infection.
As manufacturing capacity continues to grow in China, albeit at a slightly slower rate than recent years, it is estimated it will require 20 per cent of all pallets available worldwide by 2017. It will take China’s total past five billion. Financial decisions taken by the government have been favourable to the logistics industry in its moves more towards domestic consumption, which partly accounts for the growth in pallets, though there is a greater tendency to pool-share rather than purchase new ones. This not only keeps down costs but also helps preserve natural resources.