Plywood production in 2050

July 16, 2021. – FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) publishes statistics of forest products. The figures are perhaps not super accurate, but still they illustrate the direction. The gigantic leap in global plywood production happened in the 2000s and the reason was China. China’s production grew from 11 million m3 in 2000 to 59 million m3 in 2010.

1970 33 million m3

1980 39 million m3

1990 48 million m3

2000 58 million m3

2010 101 million m3

2019 107 million m3 (the latest available data)

What will be the growth rate in the future? Or will the direction turn someday? What could be the reason for that? 

The first thing that comes to mind is round wood availability. I guess there is no plywood company in the world that hasn’t already had occasional issues with the log availability.

During the last month, we have had extreme heat, heavy rain, floods, and forest fires in every corner of the globe. The weather phenomena are not separate from business life. Implications can be various and unexpected; anything from hot working temperature to electricity breaks and collapsed roads. However, for a wood processing company, the main risk lies in steady raw material flow. 

The global plywood production numbers are too big for individual companies. It is difficult to see the connection between tens of thousands m3 and 100 million m3. If the global plywood demand keeps growing, the production tries to follow. That means the harvesting volumes need to rise as well. Regional wood scarcity will occur. Even in sustainable forest areas, fires, insects and storms will harm the fluent log procurement. Secured log supply is not easy but worth planning.

It seems that unexpected is the new norm and “business as usual” will not return. Perhaps companies need to learn to like “business as unusual”.