A weak pound and an increase in UK food and drink exports to Continental Europe have led to demand for the European Pallet Association’s Euro size pallet soar by 16% in the first three months of 2009.

Despite the current economic crisis, Paul Davidson, chief executive of EPAL in the UK said the largest global pallet pool seemed to be bucking the trend. “There are many reasons why EPAL pallets are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, particularly for companies exporting to Europe,” he said.

Many EPAL-approved pallet producers in the UK have noticed the upsurge, with a number pointing to the strength and quality control standards that EPAL pallets demonstrate.

Ryan Lewis, from HLC Wood Products, said he had seen an increase in interest from food, drink and pharmaceutical companies wanting ‘clean’ quality pallets.

“In industries where hygiene and cleanliness are important, new non-coated timber pallets such as EPAL have a natural advantage,” said Mr Lewis, adding that, now that timber prices had fallen a little, there was less difference between the cost of new and used pallets.

With exports normally having to travel further than domestic goods, strength is an important factor. Recent strength test results show that EPAL-approved pallets are twice as good as non-approved pallets, says EPAL.

“Customers need to know that each pallet they use is fit for purpose and will protect the goods through the journey,” said Darren Turner from Pontrillas Timber.

EPAL pallets can also help a company reduce its carbon footprint: an EPAL pallet carried a negative carbon footprint of -27.54kg of CO2 per pallet.

Mr Davidson said he expected growth throughout the rest of 2009 and into next year with “a number of new initiatives planned for 2010”.