Awareness of future customer needs necessary for success in the wood-based panel products industry

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Construction the most significant use area for wood-based panels

Wood-based panel products are used in construction, interior decoration, furniture and transport equipment. All of these end use areas suffered from weakened demand in the wake of the financial crisis of 2009.

"Housing and construction are not, however, going to become virtual, and this means that demand for both existing and new wood-based construction products will continue to exist. In the global division of labour, the role of Northern Europe is quite naturally that of a producer and utiliser of wood – especially in use locations where the characteristics of wood fibres are of high value," reckons Senior Vice President Antro Säilä of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.

The successful players of the future wood-based panel products industry will be familiar with developing customer needs. "In North America, wood-based panels are used much more widely than in Europe. The North Americans have also developed more new products than us Europeans," Antro Säilä says. "The wood-based panel product industry is becoming more strongly linked with the value chains of the end use areas of wood, and the industry is evolving from a materials supplier into a provider of solutions. In future, demand will focus on existing products as well as on increasingly processed products and services."

We can reach our long-term energy and climate objectives if we substantially increase the use of wood in construction. The growth in global construction activity and the ongoing depletion of non-renewable natural resources mean that the need to increase the supply of building materials, which are based on renewable natural resources, will grow.

Output of the panel products industry falls in 2009

Plywood accounts for the majority of overall wood-based panel production, the greater part of which is exported. Some 780,000 cubic metres of plywood were produced in Finland last year, which is 38% less than in 2008. Production of birch plywood fell by 52% and softwood plywood output was down 31%.   

Further information:
Antro Säilä, Senior Vice President, Business Environment and Innovation, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6633