The cost of wooden pallets has risen by as much as 400% in the last few months, in part due to the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine usually exports as many as 15m wooden pallets per year. Combined with Russia and Belarus they account for 25% of many countries' packaging wood supply. The war has brought all this to a standstill.
The cost of wood in general has also been rising. The manufacturing costs of a pallet rose by 40% in 2021, before the war had even begun. All this has led to a the price of a new pallet rising from €7 to €29.
Experts from French trade association La Chaîne Logistique du Froid have highlighted the industry's traditionally inefficient use of pallets as another driving factor behind the shortage. Breakage, loss, and long retention times for pallets are rife and behaviours have not adjusted for the tightening of supply.
“Without pallets, supply processes cannot be carried out successfully." They said in a statement. "It is urgent to sit down around the table to find a better balance between supply and demand.”
Pallets are already widely reused and recycled, but the industry will need to adapt and optimise further if costs are to be kept to reasonable levels.