Tropical hardwood suppliers of flooring to Europe are being squeezed out as regional producers rebound back in business. Oak is becoming increasingly dominant while laminated flooring and other non-wood materials are increasing in demand.
The European Federation of the Parquet Industry (FEP) reports that European wood flooring production (excluding laminate flooring) was 78.0 million m2 in 2015, 3.6% more than in 2014. This included gains of 2.6% to 64.0 million m2 in the 17 countries covered by FEP and 3.6% to 14.6 million m2 in other EU countries that are not members of FEP. Despite gains every year since 2009, production is still 20% down on the peak of 98.3 million m2 in 2007.
Amongst FEP member countries, significant production gains were made in Sweden (+15%), Spain (+10%), and Italy (+4%) during 2015. Production declined in Poland and Germany and was flat in Austria, France, and Romania.
Oak-faced flooring accounted for 78% of all wood flooring manufactured in Europe in 2015, up from 60% in 2008. The major loser has been tropical hardwood, which has seen its share of wood flooring produced in Europe fall from 14.7% in 2008 to only 4.5% in 2015. In 2015, ash was the second most widely used species for facing wood floors (5.6%), followed by beech (3.8%) and walnut (1.4%). All other species accounted for less than 1%.
In 2015, multilayer parquet floors accounted for 84% of wood floors manufactured in Europe, the majority comprising three-layer parquet (roughly 70 % of total market volume). Solid wood flooring accounted for only 14% of production. The rise in European production in 2015 was stimulated by an increase in domestic consumption. For the first time since the onset of the global financial crisis, southern European markets for hardwood flooring, particularly Spain, gained momentum in 2015 and this trend continued in the first half of 2016.
The rise in European production in 2015 was partly at the expense of imports which lost market share during the year.
The EU’s large trade deficit in EU wood flooring that opened up before the financial crises, driven by the housing bubble and a flood of product from China, has narrowed sharply in recent years.
In 2015, EU wood flooring imports from non-EU countries fell 5.4% to 28.17 million m2. Meanwhile EU exports to non-EU countries fell only slightly in 2015 and are rising again in 2016.