For wood-based panels in general, the year 2005 started difficult. The strong recovery that initiated in 2004 ended at the beginning of 2005 and caused a sharper than expected setback throughout three quarters of the year. Subsequently, the record levels that were achieved in 2004 have become a difficult target for 2005.
Contrary to other wood-based panels, MDF production took an exceptionally vigorous start in 2005 with an increase by more than 6%. But during the second quarter, production growth plunged below zero for the first time in five years. Finally during the third quarter a recovery took place as production grew by more than 4% and lasted until the end of the year.
Thanks to the momentum gained during the last months of the year, 2005 turned out to be a rather good year for the MDF industry in Europe. Production grew with almost 14%, amounting to 13.5 million m³. Over the past decade, MDF production has been rising along the lines of an average annual growth rate of 13%. The strongest growth rates were registered in the 1996-2000 period, when MDF production growth peaked at more than 27% annually, partly thanks to smaller overall volumes.
European demand for MDF accelerated further in 2005. Total consumption of MDF in Europe amounted to 12 million m3, which represents an increase of 5%. After a sluggish first semester, home sales picked up and set up a positive trend from the third quarter onwards. Meanwhile, exports have been growing for four consecutive quarters. An increasing amount of European MDF had Eastern Europe, North America and Africa as destination. With a 5% growth, production was increasing faster than consumption. Over the past decade, annual consumption growth amounted to 12.6% on average, perfectly corresponding to the production growth.