Housing demand foretells solid growth for MDF

BIS Shrapnel
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BIS Shrapnel’s Medium Density Fibreboard in the Pacific Rim and Europe, 2009 – 2013 report forecasts strong growth in the key end-use sectors for MDF – housing construction and furniture manufacturing. BIS Shrapnel says the downturn in housing construction in the United States reached the bottom of the cycle in 2009 and is expected to move into a rapid upswing from 2010 to 2013.

“The recovery in the US will drive economic growth not only in that region but also in many of its key trading partners around the world,” says report author and BIS Shrapnel senior manager, Bernie Neufeld. “It will also drive improved demand for furniture, and ultimately demand for MDF. Housing construction in other key regions such as Europe and Asia will also drive up demand for MDF from 2010 to 2013.”

However, BIS Shrapnel notes there has been a seismic shift in MDF markets over the past decade. “MDF markets are now more mature, and much more price competitive, which has driven producers to improve quality and develop new products and markets,” says Neufeld. “There has also been a significant change in ownership structure – production has shifted from North America and Europe to China and Asia and over the forecast period this will continue.
“The effects of the global financial crisis will continue to limit new production facilities in North America and Western Europe but developing regions such as China, India, South America and South East Asia will expand rapidly.”

Over the past few years there have been a wide range of new uses developed for MDF. Japan has been a leader in finding many innovative end-use applications for MDF, which are now spreading to other Asian countries, and European countries have lead the way in developing laminate flooring. Neufeld says many developing markets will also expand along these lines. “Over the next five years producers will need to respond during the upturn with improvements in quality, and the development of new products and new markets,” says Neufeld. “There is potential for MDF to be used more extensively in many applications such as flooring, zero-rated formaldehyde emission MDF, MDF panels in place of plywood panels, and applications requiring fire and water rated MDF.” BIS Shrapnel is forecasting consumption of MDF to grow at an average rate of about five per cent per year over the five year period 2009 to 2013. This rate of growth is approximately the same as the forecasts for production and should result in a reasonably balanced global market.
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