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US Wood Panel Demand to Reach 61.3 Billion Sq. Ft. in 2008

U.S. demand for wood panels is forecast to rise nearly 2 percent annually through 2008 to 61.3 billion square feet, as measured on a 3/8-inch basis. Opportunities for wood panels will be created as a result of improving prospects for manufactured goods, which were depressed during the economic slowdown in 2001-2002. Advances will be limited by a weaker outlook for new residential building construction. As a result of the stronger outlook for panels in the manufacturing market than in the construction market, nonstructural panels will lead gains through 2008. Demand for both structural and nonstructural wood panels will also be stimulated by product developments aimed at improving quality and reducing costs. These and other trends are presented in Wood Panels, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

Among the various nonstructural panel products, medium density fiberboard, particleboard and hardwood plywood will offer better growth prospects through 2008. They will benefit from the recovering furniture market, the principal end use for the panels. Demand in the furniture market will post a marked improvement from the 1998–2003 period when a drop in domestic demand coupled with an increase in imports significantly weakened U.S. furniture shipments.

Structural panels will continue to comprise the majority of wood panel use through 2008 at 35.1 billion square feet, or almost three-fifths of overall sales. Demand for structural panels will benefit from growing use in a range of manufacturing applications, which will be supported by product improvements specifically aimed at these industrial markets. OSB will lead projected gains for structural panels as it continues to be used as an alternative to softwood plywood in wall sheathing, roofing, flooring and other construction end uses.

Construction is the principal end use for wood panels, accounting for two-thirds
of total demand in 2003. Although overall gains in construction markets will be limited by weak new housing construction, several applications will show strong growth, including cabinets, paneling and such other construction uses as stairways, moldings and other millwork. Manufacturing markets for wood panels will experience strong gains through 2008, rising 4.7 percent annually.

This article presents just the highlights of the study. To order the complete, 355-page publication for $4,100, contact The Freedonia Group, Inc. at 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, OH 44143 -2326. For further details, contact Corinne Gangloff by phone 440.684.9600, fax 440.646.0484 or e-mail at [email protected]. Information may also be obtained through

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