The European Panel Federation (EPF) reports booming demand for panel products – despite steep raw material price increases.

At its general assembly in Brussels, the EPF said that consumption of particleboard grew by 7% during the first half of the year, MDF by 18% and OSB experienced a 16% rise in production during the period.

The EPF points to capacity expansion over the next few years of 6% in particleboard, 13% in MDF and 64% in OSB.

The EPF complains that its members have seen their production and distribution costs rise by up to 50% between the end of 1999 and October 2000. Glue prices rose by up to 45% and paper by 25%.

Fuel rose in price by 50% over the year to October while transport costs are now 10% higher than they were in September 1999. The EPF state of trade statement also says that wages have been on an upward curve and that this is being exacerbated by a shortage of skilled labour in some producer countries.

The outlook, however, seems good.’Despite the negative evolution on the cost side, the industry remains optimistic,’ the EPF said.