European wood-based panel industry outlook

The total production of wood-based panels in Europe in 2021 was 63.7 million m3 — up by 10% —based on the 2021-2022 annual report data of European wood-based panels. Compared with 2019 before Covid-19, the total output of wood-based panels increased by 7.6% and the production of various types of artificial boards has increased in 2021. Among them, the output of particle board reached 34 million m3, up by 12%.

Further, the production of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) has reached 12.9 million m3, with a growth of 7.6%. The output of oriented particle board has a 2% increase, reaching 7.2 million m3. The production of lightweight fibreboard is reportedly up by 12.6% with 5.6 million m3, and the production of plywood has reached 3.2 million m3 with an increase of 12.2%.  

The economic sanctions due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict meant that more are inclined to burn wood for energy, thus competing with the wood-based panel industry for wood raw materials. The shortage of wood and the unstable supply of chemical raw materials have caused difficulty for factories to maintain normal production.

(Image: Global wood)

It is expected that the demand for particle board will continue to decline from 2022-2023 before rebounding. In 2021, Türkiye promoted the recovery of demand for MDF in eastern Europe with an increase of 500,000m3. However, high inflation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict will lead to a sharp decline in demand from 2022 to 2023.

There was a continued demand for oriented particle board from 2019-2021 in China. However, due to the decline in construction activities, the demand for oriented particle board in western Europe will shrink, and there will be a sharp decline in eastern Europe. The shortage of birch plywood and the limited potential of alternative tree species will hinder the demand for plywood. Overall, short-term uncertainties will test supply and demand. Looking long-term, however, the artificial board industry will emerge stronger after the recession.

The wood supply in the wood-based panel industry will face challenges as energy transformation has generated competition for wood in the energy industry. Yet, new industries such as biomass fuels and biomass chemicals require wood. It is expected that the demand for artificial board will decrease from 2022-2023, but it will begin to rebound in areas such as construction and furniture.

The European Board Association aims to create a new era of sustainable development in the construction, furniture, packaging and other markets through artificial board products.