Pallets: The World-Moving Unstoppable Force
04 Dec 2013
In today’s global economy, when goods from literally every country on earth are traded on the world’s markets, the pallet industry is growing exponentially. Pallets are the hidden force behind this multi-billion pound trade — without them the logistics would prove difficult if not impossible. Here is a look at the growth of the pallet market and some of the important trends happening within this vital industry.
Recent statistics show that by the year 2017 there will be more than one billion pallets in use in the UK alone – figures for the US market are said to be at least double that. Ten years ago, the pallet industry was worth an estimated £280 billion worldwide and growth is set to continue at around 2.4% year on year, at a conservative estimate, making this a lucrative and highly competitive global industry that shows no signs of slowing.
New or Used Pallets?
At the moment, there’s an approximate 50/50 split between the use of new pallets and recycled ones. The global recession has led to a downturn in the production of new pallets, with many organisations faced with a need to cut costs opting for recycled or refurbished pallets instead of purchasing new ones. However, with an upturn in the world’s economies forecast in the next couple of years, it is anticipated that sales of new pallets, such as the ever-popular euro pallets, will increase.
Wood or Plastic?
Wood is currently the material of choice, accounting for over 90% of sales of new pallets. Ease of manufacture and the availability of wood are among the factors which account for their popularity. They are also relatively inexpensive, strong and robust and do the job for which they are intended well. However, they do have their drawbacks – they can be susceptible to insect infestation and lose their rigidity and therefore strength if exposed to moisture.
Plastic, whilst having a relatively small market share at the moment, is growing in popularity for pallet manufacture. Plastic pallets can cost anywhere up to 6% more than their wooden counterparts and can present fragility and repair problems if damaged, but they can also offer significant advantages. They are more durable than wooden pallets and can be cleaned more effectively and sterilised if required for use in, for example, the pharmaceutical industry or for food transportation. They are resistant to both moisture insect infestations.
There’s no doubt that the pallet industry is set on an upward course. Having been one of the few industries to have weathered the worldwide recession over recent years, success seems likely to continue. It’s also estimated that the use of plastic pallets will grow as more organisations realise their potential as a lightweight and effective pallet solution to the transportation problems of many industries around the world.