As in past years, for the purposes of this survey, we will divide the world into two parts. Part 1 covers Europe and North America, while Part 2, to be published in our December 2018/January 2019 issue, will cover the rest of the world. In both cases, the figures are as at December 31, 2017.

In summary for this first part, we can say that all Europe had a combined capacity of 51,659,000m3 at the end of 2017 (2016: 50,839,000m3). This represents an increase in the year of 820,000m3.

Meanwhile, North America had 9,334,000m3 of capacity at end-2017 (2016: 9,391,000m3). This represents a small decrease in the year, of 57,000m3, but a lot more is planned, as we shall see.

In its annual report 2017/18, the European Panel Federation (EPF) says that, following an increase in 2015 and 2016, production in EPF member countries increased by 2.7% in 2017, exceeding expectations. Output amounted to nearly 3.1 million m3 (please note that the figures in the WBPI survey, as always, relate to capacity, not production). Consumption, says the EPF, rose by 3% in 2017, to 30.13 million m3. Meanwhile, capacity in EPF member countries rose by 0.4% in 2017 and capacity utilisation rose by 3%.

We will now look at the story behind the figures in each of the two regions: Europe and North America.


In the listings for end-2016, in France we showed the Belipa mill in Ecommoy, but we are now informed that this mill closed some time ago, so we have removed it from the end-2017 listings. The capacity removed was 115,000m3.

For Italy, we have now moved the SAIB mill from Table 6: Future capacity 2017 onwards, to the main listings of current capacity as we are advised that that mill is now in operation. We believe the capacity to be 310,000m3, but have been unable to obtain confirmation from SAIB.

Rauch of Germany has increased the capacity at its Markt Bibart line by 130,000m3, by replacing its old Küsters continuous press with a Siempelkamp ContiRoll. Capacity is now 630,000m3, as shown in our main listing.

Also in Germany, Sonae Arauco has ordered a particleboard plant from Dieffenbacher for its Beeskow site. Project ‘Beeskow 50+’ is so named to mark the recent 50th anniversary of the Beeskow site. The complete-line supply contract includes a 42m Diefffenbacher CPS+ continuous press. The company already has a 22-year-old Dieffenbacher continuous press press line for MDF, which is running successfully, says Sonae Arauco.

Due to start up in October 2019, the new line will have a particleboard capacity of around 600,000m3. It is thus in Table 6 – ‘EU28 Future capacity changes’.

Kastamonu purchased two mills from the former Trombini Group and is re-engineering them as they ceased production under Trombini about six years ago.

We are advised by Kastamonu that the Pomposa Factory will start production “soon” (hopefully in September at the time of writing). The capacity will be 480,000m3/ year.

The second factory, at Frossasco, has a capacity of 320,000m3/year but renovation works have not yet begun, so no start-up date is available.

Both mills thus remain in Table 6 , for the time being.

Continuing its theme of ‘hoovering up’ closed panel mills, Kastamonu has also purchased the former Darbo plant in France. The plant is to be relocated to Kastamonu’s site in Gorno Sahrane, Bulgaria, where it will replace a multi-opening press line which is more than 30 years old.

Dieffenbacher is to carry out the relocation and modernisation of the former Darbo machinery. Production is expected to be around 580,000m3/year.

We have removed the Darbo plant from our main listing and entered it into Table 6 as future capacity in Bulgaria.

In Spain, the plant which we list as Tablicia was in fact taken over by Grupo Martin, the largest trader in panels and accessories for the wood and furniture industry in Peru, in 2014. Grupo Martin then set up a subsidiary, Tableros Hispanos, to run the particleboard plant, which had a multi-opening press line. Now, Tableros Hispanos has placed an order with Dieffenbacher for the first stage of its renewal of the line. This includes a forming station, forming line, continuous CPS+ press and raw board handling system. As the existing material preparation is to be retained in phase 1, output of the line will be limited to 1,000m3/day. This therefore appears in Table 6 as 330,000m3/year. Ultimately, Tableros plans to expand that figure to 1,500m3/day, which is approximately 495,000m3/year.


In Switzerland, Krono Swiss has built a new particleboard plant (supplied by Dieffenbacher) at Menznau. Designed capacity is 580,000m3. It was due to start up in end 2017/early 2018, so we have included it in our main listing for end-2017. In Lithuania, Siempelkamp is to supply Kalipedos Madiena (VMG) with a complete particleboard line to be located in Akmene, northeast Lithuania. This follows two other projects for this customer by Siempelkamp: Giriu Bizonas in Lithuania (2005); and VMGMogilev in Belarus (2010).

The new plant is destined to start production in 2020, with a Generation 9 ContiRoll of 45.4m x 8ft. Designed production capacity is 2,000m3/day (ca660,000m3/year).

In Russia, two anticipated projects have been suspended. These are Interwood Invest (130,000m3/year) and Katyusha (240,000m3/ year). These are shown accordingly in Table 7. Meanwhile, Plitspichprom’s 180,000m3/ year line is still under construction and due onstream end-2018/early 2019.

Ugra Plit’s planned expansion of 115,000m3 has not yet been launched. Also in Russia, XyloSuisse LLC, has purchased MK Shatura’s particleboard, laminated particleboard and resin production facilities in the Moscow area. Shatura is a large Russian furniture producer, which will now concentrate on the fabrication of high-grade furniture. We have changed the ownership to XyloSuisse in our main listing.

It is planned that the particleboard capacity will be increased, but further details are awaited, and unfortunately we have been unable to ascertain the capacity of the original Shatura line.

Turning to Poland, we find that the Egger Group, which is doing well financially this year, is constructing its 19th panel plant, this time in Biskupiec, northeast Poland. The 650,000m3 particleboard plant was scheduled to be built by the end of this year (2018), as we reported in this sur vey last year.

Still in Poland, Forte’s Siempelkamp ContiRoll line went into production ahead of schedule, in February 2018. So this 495,000m3 line has been moved to our main listing from last year’s Table 6. Forte is one of Europe’s largest furniture manufacturers, so no prizes for guessing where that extra capacity will be utilised!


It should be noted that, under this heading, we of course include the US and Canada, but also Mexico.

According to the Composite Panel Association’s (CPA) capacity report for January 2018, of the 35 North American particleboard mills, the US represents 64.0% of North American capacity; Canada 25.7%; and Mexico 10.3%. CPA members represent 95.4% of the active North American particleboard industry capacity. The CPA also states that particleboard production capacity totalled 5.250BSF (9,292,000m3) as of January 2018, down 55 MMSF (97,000m3), or -1.0%, from the same month in 2017. The closing of the Northern Engineered Wood Products mill in Smithers, British Columbia, attributed to the notable decrease in Canada.

The CPA also stated, in its monthly report for April 2018, that particleboard shipments grew by 1.7% to 275 million ft2, compared to 271 million ft2 in April 2017. However, shipments for the first four months of 2018 were 0.1% below the same period in 2017.

Notwithstanding this gloomy news early in 2018, the author’s impression, gained at the IWF exhibition in Atlanta in August, was that things have picked up during the year and there was an air of optimism at the show, with the expectation that panel output in general – and particleboard in particular – were set to grow. The improving economy and consumer optimism should drive furniture sales, with the knock-on beneficial effects for panel makers.

Perhaps the biggest sign of this optimism in the US comes from Kronospan’s decision to increase its investment in its Oxford, Alabama expansion by a further US$101m, to a total of US$463m. The expansion was originally announced in mid-2016 as a US$362m investment to include two laminate flooring and decorative paper impregnation lines; a particleboard and thermally-fused laminate line; and expansion of its resin plant. We do not have an anticipated start-up date for this mill as we go to press, but it won’t be too long now.

This capacity increase, of 900,000m3 is shown in Table 5 – North America future capacity changes.

Arauco’s new mill in Grayling, Michigan – the first to be erected in the US since 2001 – will be the largest particleboard mill in operation on the continent when it opens at the end of this year (800,000m3/year). It is also in Table 5.

But there is a trio of new mills announced for the US. The third is another Europeanheadquartered company, like Kronospan,

and this is Egger. Its new 400,000m3 mill in Lexington, Kentucky, is expected to come onstream in about 2020 and is again shown as such in Table 5.

As we went to press, it was announced in the CPA newsletter @The edge that the Boise Cascade Company, Boise, Idaho, has agreed to sell its La Grande particleboard mill to Woodgrain Millwork.

The sale, which was expected to close by the end of November, also includes Boise’s northeast Oregon lumber mills. Woodgrain, based in Fruitland, Oregon, manufactures wooden doors, mouldings and windows, with 18 operations in the US. Boise Cascade produces engineered wood products and plywood in North America and is a US wholesale distributor of building products.

“The sale to Woodgrain allows us to further focus on our veneer-based engineered wood products and plywood businesses,” said Mike Brown, senior vice president of operations, Boise Cascade Wood Products division.

The name will not be changed until next year’s survey as the sale is it to take effect in 2018 and this survey covers 2017.

The only other change from last year’s survey is that the CPA advise that Northern Engineered Woods, Smithers, AB has closed. This mill was shown in our listing last year with just 97,000m3/year capacity. We have removed it.

We are not aware of any other changes upcoming in North America. As always, if we have missed something, please let us know