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US demand to rise 3.5% annually through 2017

The number of pallets in use in the US is forecast to grow 2.4 percent annually to 2.6 billion in 2017, with annual demand for new pallets increasing 3.5 percent per year to 1.3 billion units. A number of factors will contribute to sales growth. First, rising manufacturers’ shipments will require producers to add to their existing stocks in order to have enough pallets on hand to handle higher output levels. Second, the 2007-2009 economic recession negatively impacted new lumber pallet demand because refurbished pallets were a lower-cost alternative for cash-strapped producers. As a result, relatively few new pallets were purchased during the downturn, leaving owners unable to maintain stock quality. Going forward, a more favorable economic climate will induce companies to discard these aging refurbished units and purchase new ones, fueling stronger demand growth. Third, block pallets are expected to make up a larger share of the market total, and growing numbers of manufacturers will replace their existing stringer pallets with new block units.

Manufacturing market to outpace warehousing uses

Manufacturing pallet demand will out-pace warehousing market sales through 2017, fueled by a rebound in shipments following a period of decline and supported by a trend toward insourcing as labor costs rise in developing countries and shipping costs continue to climb. Warehousing pallet demand will moderate from gains posted during the 2007-2012 period for two reasons. The primary reason is growth in use of pallet management services that are able to skillfully maintain pallet stocks with minimal new product purchases, tempering increases in demand. These firms provide producers and distributors with the pallets they require, eliminating the need for them to purchase and maintain their own pallets. The use of pallet management services also frees up pallet storage space that can instead be utilized for components and finished goods. The second reason for the expected deceleration in warehousing pallet market advances is the growing maturity of this industry, as much of the shift towards third-party providers has already occurred.

Plastic, metal pallets to gain market share on wood

Wood pallets are projected to remain the most commonly used product type through 2017, although competitive products will register more impressive sales gains. Plastic pallet demand saw their strongest advances historically in percentage terms, and they will continue to record above-average stock and demand increases. They last for many years and are fully recyclable, allowing producers to tout both their lower lifecycle costs and environmental friendliness. Metal pallet demand, however, will rise at the fastest pace of any product type through 2017 due to a large build-up in idle stocks during the 2007-2009 recession and the generally slow economic recovery that followed. As manufacturers’ shipments fell between 2007 and 2009, metal pallets were taken out of active stocks and put in storage because they represented too significant an investment to be simply discarded. As output levels recovered, these idle metal pallets were used to meet product requirements, severely limiting new pallet sales in 2012. Through 2017, demand will advance rapidly from the low 2012 market base as idle stocks are eliminated and new units are purchased.

Company Profiles

Profiles for 50 US industry competitors such as CHEP (Brambles), Intelligent Global Pooling Systems, PECO Pallet, Great Northern, ORBIS (Menasha), PalletOne, Sonoco Products, and Worthington Steelpack

Additional Information

This study examines the US market for pallets. Pallet supply, demand, and stock are analyzed by type of material, which can be wood (lumber and engineered wood), plastics (high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, and other resins), metal (steel and aluminum), and corrugated paper. Wood pallet demand is also broken out by type (new or refurbished) and design (block or stringer). In addition, pallet demand and stock are analyzed by market, with breakouts for manufacturing (chemicals, electronic products, food and beverages, machinery, metal products, transportation equipment, and other); warehousing and storage services, including pallet management services; construction; and other. The study also examines demand for the materials used to manufacture pallets (wood, plastic resins, metal, corrugated paper, and fasteners), and discusses regulatory, demographic, and other market environment factors. The size and growth of pallet management service revenues and pallet stock is analyzed as well.

Historical data for 2002, 2007, and 2012 and forecasts to 2017 and 2022 are provided for demand (in millions of pallets and millions of dollars at the manufacturers’ level), as well as for net imports and shipments (in millions of pallets). Also provided is pallet stock (in millions of pallets) by market and material type. When calculating demand for pallets, one refurbished pallet is considered to be one-seventh of a new pallet. In analyzing demand by market, the user who places goods on the pallet is considered to be the consumer of the pallet. For example, when a manufacturer of breakfast cereal purchases a pallet to ship boxes of the cereal, this is considered to be demand by a manufacturer in the food and beverage market. However, when a pallet management firm purchases a pallet, stores it, and then leases it to a manufacturer, this is considered to be demand by a warehousing services provider. In addition, important manufacturers of pallets and providers of pallet management services are identified and profiled, and factors involved in industry competition are discussed. The entire study is framed within the pallet industry’s economic, technological, and market environments.

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