US demand to increase 2% annually through 2012
US demand for pallets is forecast to grow about two percent annually through 2012 to 670 million pallets. Pallets made from wood -- primarily lumber -- will continue to account for a dominant share of the US market, while plastic pallets will experience the fastest gains in demand.

Plastic pallet demand to exceed 50 million in 2012
Demand for plastic pallets is projected to rise nearly five percent per year to more than 50 million pallets in 2012. Pallet users are opting for plastic pallets due to their durability. Plastic pallets are easy to clean, and meet US and international phytosanitary requirements for shipping, making them ideal for product shippers with neither the time nor resources to continually sterilize pallets. Plastic pallets can last a long time without requiring time-consuming repairs, and can be easily recycled once they have reached the end of their product lifespan. Additionally, plastic pallets can possess sufficient strength despite a weight much less than that made from other materials, an important consideration to value-conscious long-distance shippers.

Wood pallets are forecast to account for almost 90 percent of the market in 2012. However, demand for wood pallets is projected to rise at a rate just below that of the market average, however. Demand gains will be restrained by the growth of pallet refurbishing services, which repair distressed pallets by removing damaged deckboards, blocks and stringers and replacing them with new components. These services prolong the lifespans of existing pallets, reducing demand for new units. Environmental concerns about the waste generated by pallets will also drive continued use of pallet refurbishing, as users seek to reduce the environmental impact of pallet consumption by trying reuse and refit pallets, rather than disposing of them at the earliest opportunity.