In the UK there have been many rumours over the past year of birch plywood originating from Russia circumventing the current import ban on the product.

The ban was part of the package of economic sanctions placed on Russia and Belarus due to the Ukraine conflict.

But as the remaining already shipped legal supplies of Russian birch plywood reduced on the market, many large panel product traders reported that new streams of birch plywood were coming on stream – from unlikely sources.

These sources included Turkey and Kazakhstan, nations not normally known for their expertise in birch plywood.

Europe’s plywood industry, led by Polish, Latvian and Finnish plywood producers, has responded by pressing the European Commission to look into it, resulting in the launch of a formal investigation into the matter.

It is an interesting development and follows much consternation in European plywood circles, especially as the market has been transitioning to other source of supply / products to replace Russian birch ply, which is used in many applications.

The investigation could take up to nine months and many people will be watching it for sure. Meanwhile, in this issue we publish our second MDF survey of the year, this time focusing on the Rest of the World (outside North America and Europe).

Investment in new MDF capacity continues in various regions of the world.

Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam have each either announced or are developing new projects.

In China, the mix of products has been changing, with particleboard growth a factor due to its lighter weight and more economical nature, meaning it is a cheaper product to use than solid wood and MDF. This trend of increasing demand for PB is likely to continue in China, but MDF is still, of course, a massive product on the Chinese market.

India is an interesting market, with lots of investment news. This will surely be a big market for further MDF growth in the coming years.

After several updates and corrections in data from across the globe, we now show an increase in installed capacity in 2022 for the Rest of the World to 88,107,000m3, while further investments identified in this region for 2023/24 and beyond, bring the total up to 94,749,000m3.

So, for 2023/24 and beyond, when this figure is added to the European future capacity of 32,305,000m3 and the North American future capacity figures (including Mexico) of 7,277,000m3 for the same period, we estimate future global MDF capacity growing to 134,331,000m3.

In the next issue we will focus on global particleboard markets and production capacity.