Plywood Market size is forecast to reach US$61.3 billion by 2027 after growing at a CAGR of 5.2% during the forecast period 2022-2027. Plywood is an engineered wood product. Plywood is generally made from wood veneers that are peeled from a log and are bonded together with an adhesive. A range of wood species, including hardwood and softwood can be used to made plywood. Plywood is preferred for cabinets as it is more durable and lighter when compared to particle board. Plywood can be used in both interior and exterior applications. Plywood’s strength and durability make it suitable for usage in floorings, walls, ceilings, packaging containers, furniture, musical instruments, shipbuilding, and so on. The trend of do-it-yourself (DIY) and flatpack furniture drives the plywood market during the forecast period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses work and has impacted every industry. The furniture industry has seen several ups and downs during the pandemic. During the initial phase of the pandemic, stores had to be closed due to lockdowns and stay-at-home mandates. Mills and factories were also shut down. When factories re-opened, many manufacturers experienced a depleted workforce, due to illness or mandatory Covid-19 isolation. In addition to social distancing rules, this led to significant operational changes such as staggered working hours. During the multiple lockdowns as people spent more time at home, the focus shifted to spending money on their houses. A June 2020 survey by architecture firm, The Farnsworth Group, found that more than 70% of American homeowners had started new DIY projects at home, many of them attributing long hours in lockdown to their sudden desire for refurbishments. This resulted in a surge in orders as businesses decided to run online. However, this sudden increase in orders, paired with supply shortages became very challenging and resulted in extended delivery times. The problem faced by the furniture industry also affected the plywood market.
Plywood Market Segment Analysis – By Wood Type
The softwood segment held the largest share in the plywood market up to 30% in 2021. The popularity of plywood has increased due to its versatility and various advantages, such as high-impact resistance, chemical resistance, high structural stability, durability, stiffness, and dimensional surface stability. Soft plywood is made from pine, redwood, cedar, or other softwoods. They are suitable for exterior frame and roof sheathing and subflooring. Softwood can also be used for sheds, temporary flooring, and shelving. Thus, it is mainly used in the construction industry for structural purposes. The highest grades can also be used for decorative purposes such as furniture and cabinet making. When earthquakes or high winds strike, the walls and roof of the house bear the brunt of these forces. A fully sheathed wall of plywood, properly connected to the foundation below and the roof above, is a strong barrier that resists the forces of wind and earthquakes. According to APA-The Engineered Wood Association, sheathing with plywood can help make a house 2-3 times more able to withstand high winds and earthquakes. Softwoods are easy to handle because they are lighter and more pliable. Softwood is more commonly used for furniture than hardwood, mainly because it is economical. This is because softwood trees tend to grow faster and hence are easier and cheaper to produce. This also makes softwood more eco-friendly, as it can be more readily renewable than hardwood. Owing to all these merits, softwood is set to dominate the plywood market during the forecast period.
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Plywood Market Segment Analysis – By Adhesive
The urea formaldehyde segment held the largest share in the plywood market in 2021. Urea formaldehyde adhesives are widely used in the wood industry for joining wood to make plywood and particle board. Urea formaldehyde has many advantages, such as colorlessness, fast curing, water solubility, and low cost. Urea formaldehyde adhesives are thermosetting and cost-efficient polymers, mainly used for interior applications in the plywood industry. It is chosen for its fast curing and wide operating window. Urea adhesives are cured at lower pH and elevated temperatures. It is the most used adhesive in the wood industry, 70% of it is consumed by the wood industry. However, there have been concerns over formaldehyde emissions leading to the development of alternate adhesives. Associations around the world ensure that plywood sold is low emission or safe to use.
Plywood Market Segment Analysis – By Grade
The MR grade held the largest share in the plywood market in 2021. MR stands for moisture resistance. MR grade plywood is an interior grade plywood which makes it the best fit for indoor uses like construction, kitchen rooftops, wardrobes, doors, etc. This grade has good internal strength which is also the highest amongst all the grades of plywood. It is comparatively cheaper than waterproof plywood. MR grade plywood has a high resistance to termites due to the adhesives and additives used. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), US residents spend at least $1 billion on termite control and repairs each year. Termites can cause significant damage to houses and furniture. Hence, it is better to prevent termite infestation by using construction materials that are termite resistant. Hence, the MR grade is anticipated to dominate the plywood market.
Plywood Market Segment Analysis – By Ply
The 3-ply held the largest share in the plywood market in 2021. A ply refers to a layer of wood veneer used to create various thicknesses in the plywood. It is one of the most common types of plywood. As it has only three layers it is thin yet strong and durable. It is used for decorative purposes making it a good choice for indoor use. It is also used for packing cases and furniture parts. Plywood is used to make crates and boxes to transport perishable food such as fresh produce. It is economical compared to other packaging materials and more reliable than carton packaging. According to the European Federation of Wooden Pallet and Packaging Manufacturers (FEFPEB), there are more than 3 billion wood pallets in circulation within the European Union. There is an increasing demand for wooden packaging due to the negative impact of plastic on the environment. Hence, the 3-ply segment is set to dominate the plywood market.
Plywood Market Segment Analysis – By Application
The construction segment held the largest share in the plywood market up to 35% in 2021. Plywood has several properties that make it a popular construction material such as high strength, high panel shear, flexibility, moisture, chemical and fire resistance, high thermal and sound insulation. On account of these properties, plywood is used in building and construction, particularly in walls, floors, roofs, doors, exterior siding, and interior finishing (e.g., wall paneling). After a turbulent year in 2020, the construction industry is on a recovery path. According to data from the US Department of Commerce, residential starts rose 1.4% to 1.70 million in December 2021 from a 1.68 million pace in November 2021. For all of 2021, 1.6 million homes were started, a 15.6% increase from 2020. A recent report in the Business Insider also offers evidence of a growing trend in home building for at least a decade. According to the report, the US is short 6.5 million homes. As the construction market improves, more houses will be built which will create a demand for plywood. The value of residential construction is expected to substantially increase in 2022 due to low mortgage rates and low interest on home loans representing an opportunity for the industry. Thus, the growth in residential construction boosts the growth of the construction industry. Therefore, this sector is anticipated to dominate the plywood market during the forecast period.
Plywood Market Segment Analysis – By Geography
The Asia-Pacific region held the largest share in the plywood market in 2021 up to 40% owing to the construction activities in the region. Increased spending on residential construction is a contributing factor to the recovery of the construction industry. In India, strong government support at the national level for the housing sector is reflected in the allocation of sizeable funding for housing in the national 2021 Budget including the creation of US$3.5 billion fund to support the completion of stalled housing projects. The government of India has taken several initiatives such as Smart City Project, Housing for All, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), etc. to encourage development in the sector. In Australia, the national treasury announced the HomeBuilder programme in June 2020, which provides eligible owners (as well as first home buyers) with a grant of AUD 25,000 to substantially renovate an existing home or build a new one. The Home Ownership Campaign was introduced by the Malaysian government to encourage homeownership in the country. Therefore, the government initiatives in this region drive the construction industry which in turn drive the plywood market.
Plywood Market Drivers
Increasing Sales of Flatpack Furniture
Most flatpack furniture is generally made of plywood, particle board, and medium density fiberboard. Flatpack furniture is popular to its affordability and ease of transport. It is also extremely flexible and allows instant customization. The sales of furniture have been going up ever since the pandemic. The interest in home-related projects with people spending more time at home during the pandemic drove up the sales for furniture. For instance, D2C home furnishing brand, Article, shared that April 2020 was their highest revenue month to date, with sales up 200% compared to April 2019. Conversion of spaces into home offices and home classrooms also has driven the sales of furniture. This trend also continued in 2021. According to the US Department of Commerce, sales from furniture and home furnishings stores came in at $146.1 billion during 2021, which is a 26.4% increase over 2020. According to Furniture Today, spending on furniture and bedding will grow at a rate of 20.8% over the next five years to reach $145 billion by 2026. Thus, the increasing sales of flat pack furniture drive the demand for the plywood industry.
Rising Demand for Sustainable Materials
Currently, in the world ‘green living, green thinking’ is the order. Consumers are become more conscious about their carbon footprint and prefer sustainable products. As such, green buildings have become popular. Green sustainable construction makes way for green designs and green buildings that are less damaging to both humans and the environment. Solid wood is derived and produced from natural forests which causes environmental problems such as deforestation. On the other hand, plywood is manufactured from sustainable forests. Plywood is manufactured by wood veneers drawn from the rotational peeling of lumbers. Thus, making the most out of the piece of wood. The wood wastage of the plywood manufacturing process is significantly less when compared with traditional lumber practices. Since it can be made from both hardwood and softwood, the best practice is to choose plywood that is locally sourced from sustainably managed forests, and that is also produced locally. There are also lots of tax benefits linked to green construction. For instance, the US state of Delaware’s program, Sustainable Energy Utility Green for Green Home Rebate, provides $1,000-$4,500 rebates to certain new homes that achieve LEED certification. The LEED program is a building certification process developed and administered by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that aims to improve a building’s performance across a variety of green areas. Therefore, the rising demand for sustainable materials drives the demand for plywood.
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Plywood Market Challenges
Rising Price of Plywood
The pandemic created supply chain disruptions that affected the plywood industry resulting in skyrocketing prices. According to data provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in the UK the price of imported plywood was nearly 12% more expensive in July 2021 compared to June 2021 and up 82% compared to July 2020. According to US Producer Price Index (PPI), in December 2021 plywood was up 1.66% from November 2021 and 13.3% compared to December 2020. The price hit an all-time high in June 2021. This is particularly worrisome for end users. According to the Associated General Contractors of America’s (AGC) 2022 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Survey, material costs were listed as a top concern for contractors this year. Prices for materials such as plastic construction products, lumber, and plywood, yielded accelerated price hikes in December 2021 as evident from the PPI. In November 2021, the US Commerce Department confirmed it will impose a nearly 18% tariff on imports of Canadian softwood lumber producers in 2022. This has also contributed to the price hike. Therefore, the rising price of plywood will be a challenge for the plywood industry.
Plywood Industry Outlook
Product launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in the market. Plywood top 10 companies include:
1. Weyerhaeuser Company
2. UPM-Kymmene Oyj
3. LIXIL Corporation
4. Century Plyboards Ltd.
5. Georgia Pacific LLC
6. Jaya Tiasa Holdings Berhad
7. Boise Cascade Company
8. Greenply Industries Ltd.
9. Uniply Industries Ltd.
10. Sveza-Les LLC
In December 2021, UPM announced that it is investing EUR 10 million in the development of UPM Plywood’s mill in Joensuu. UPM Joensuu manufactures plywood and plywood components for demanding industrial applications.
In March 2021, Greenply Industries Ltd. divulged that it will invest around INR 75 crores to set up a plywood and allied products manufacturing unit through a wholly-owned subsidiary in at Sandila Industrial Area in Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh. The new project is expected to be operational by Q4 2021-22.
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Asia-Pacific dominates the plywood market, on account of the growing construction activities in the region. According to Invest India, the construction industry in India is expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2025.
Plywood is an engineered wood product made from thin sheets of wood veneer. It is one of the most widely used wood products.
Plywood is used in construction because of its strength and durability, and also in furniture making because of its versatility.
The growing economy presents a major opportunity for this market as construction improves, the demand for plywood will rise.
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