European wood-based panels production declined by a “disappointing” 6.3% in 2023, according to the latest statistics unveiled by the European Panel Federation (EPF).

However, a positive angle was that wood-based panels exceeded the overall performances of the two main end-user sectors (furniture and construction), suggesting a gain of share in both segments for wood.

The figures are contained in the EPF’s Annual Report 2023, released at the Federation’s AGM on June 19-21 in Riga, Latvia, hosted by Latvian plywood producer Latvijas Finieras and attended by 180 industry professionals.

OSB was the sole panel product area that saw production growth in 2023 in the EU27/UK/EFTA region at +2% to 6.6million m3 (2022: 6.5million m3).

The largest product area – particleboard – recorded a -5% reverse with a 30.9million m3 production (2022: 32.5million m3). MDF saw a bigger drop at -11% to 11.1 million m3 (2022: 12.5million m3).

Softboard – mainly wood fibre insulation boards – has been an area of significant growth in recent years, but this product area declined by 6% in 2023 to 4.8million m3 (2022: 5.2million m3).

Plywood production saw a large -15% decline to 2.6million m3 (2022: 3.1 million m3), while the final panel product area – hardboard – saw a 17% reduction, though this is the smallest product area for the European wood-based panels industry at 400,000m3 (2022: 500,000m3). A longer report on the EPF AGM will appear in the next issue of WBPI