T his issue of WBPI looks different. As you turn the pages, you will notice that the layout, the colours and the typefaces are all new to the magazine and we hope that you will agree that it is sharper, cleaner and easier to read.
It has been some years since we last had a redesign and I think our designer, Gavin Middlemiss, has done an excellent job in updating the panel industry’s favourite magazine. We would welcome your feedback on this, or any other aspect of WBPI, as we are anxious to ensure that our content meets your needs. Just send me an email.

Meanwhile, out in the world of panel machinery, I have been getting the same reply to one question for some time now. That question is: “where are your most active markets at the moment?”. The answer is always: “Latin America, China, Turkey, eastern Europe”.
In this issue, it is the turn of Latin America, or more specifically Brazil, to be the main regional focus of the magazine and our regular Latin America correspondent, Richard Higgs, brings us a selection of up-to-the-minute stories, beginning on p26. It is good to find that not all countries around the world are downbeat and living under the shadow of the global economic storm clouds. Brazil is already recovering from its more modest downturn and panel companies there are looking optimistically towards the future and the prospect of rising domestic, and to some extent export, demand.
There has also been a lot going on in terms of company mergers, new lines and new players in the manufacture of MDF, where Brazil’s favoured product, medium density particleboard, is feeling the pressure from its fibreboard competitor.
Staying with Latin America, Bernard Fuller gives us an economic overview of the markets in Brazil, Chile and Argentina and also has some comments on the present and future influence of China on the region’s export potential (p50).
Part one of our particleboard survey, on Europe & North America, not surprisingly reveals a grim recent past and a depressing outlook for the producers, in the latter continent at least.
However, in Europe, things do seem to be improving and here Turkey features again, plus a number of other expansion plans in the pipeline, in both eastern and western Europe.
Pleasingly, our news pages also feature a number of upbeat financial reports from panel makers in both North America and Europe. These may be due as much to cost cuts/downsizing as to improved sales, but it is a move in the right direction.
The IWF exhibition in Atlanta, US, in August reflected the poor state of the economy, with even fewer exhibitors than at the last edition in 2008, the year of the big impact of the nation’s economic problems. It will be interesting to see what has changed in the North American, and world, markets by the next show in 2010 – let’s hope there is significant improvement.