Latest pallet industry figures show growth in supply of new pallets

15 February 2015

The latest figures available on the supply of new timber pallets in the UK show a slight increase.

The figures, which relate to the full year 2013, were produced by Timbertrends in a report commissioned jointly by TIMCON and the Forestry Commission.

Presenting the findings at the TIMCON’s January general meeting conference, Timbertrends’ Nick Moore said the quantity of newly manufactured and repaired pallets increased by just over 1% to approximately 66.2 million in 2013.

New pallets grew by 4.5% p to 31.4 million and repaired pallets fell slightly to 34.8 million compared to the previous year. Pallet industry turnover was estimated to have grown by 2.3% to £279m with turnover in new pallets increasing by 0.5% to just over £205m.

Pallet repairs, meanwhile, increased to £73m turnover, up 7.8%.

The year also saw further increases in the percentage of timber the industry uses from UK and Irish sources. UK-produced softwood increased its share slightly to 74%, up from 73% in 2012; while the Republic of Ireland grew exports by nearly 60%, to take 5.5% of the total supply to the UK industry.

“The timber pallets and packaging industry has experienced several successive difficult years, with increasing costs, sluggish demand and no real increase in product prices,” said Stuart Hex, General Secretary of TIMCON.

“So it is encouraging to see some growth in the volumes of new pallets being produced, particularly given the steady increases in the price of pallet timber that began in the middle of 2013, which the industry has had to accommodate.

“This will hopefully prove to be the sign of a more sustained recovery in volumes, as the study certainly suggests the manufacturers are expecting a further increase in its turnover in 2014.”

Pallets and packaging is growing as a market outlet for major UK sawmills, as evidenced by the Forestry Commission’s figures, showing the proportion used by this sector rose to 32% per cent in 2013, compared with 29% per cent in 2008.

TIMCON is hosting this year’s European Federation of Wooden Pallet & Packaging Manufacturers (FEFPEB) congress in Cork on October 29-30, attended by delegates from Europe, the US, China and other parts of the world.