Particle board market gains traction
The market for particle board is thriving in Bangladesh on the back of the rising demand for timber-alternative furniture and their growing use in interior designing.
The demand for particle board, which is cheaper and eco-friendly than wooden ones, has been increasing around 15 to 18 per cent per year since 2017, thanks to rapid urbanisation and the growing housing sector, according to Fazle Rabbi, head of marketing of Partex Star Group, one of top particle board manufacturers in Bangladesh.
A particle board is a timber substitute, made of wood chips. It is used in interior decoration, furniture, door and door frames, partitions, false ceilings, shelves and panels for use at homes, offices and commercial establishments.
Established in 1962, Star Particle Board Mills Ltd, a concern of Partex Star Group, became the first such industry in Bangladesh as it set up a jute-based particle board factory.
The journey of the wood-based particle board industry started in 2006. And there has been massive investment in particle board manufacturing after 2011 as demand rose steadily in line with the fast-expanding consumer class.
There are several types of particle boards produced in the country: melamine, ply board, plain board, veneered bard, and PVC board. MDF board is imported from Malaysia.
Melamine board accounts for around 60 per cent of the market on the account of its higher usage among corporate, furniture and residential segments.
Manufacturers use locally available raw materials such as wastage of timber and jute stick as the major ingredients for making particle board.
"So, particle boards can even be considered as a by-product of saw mills," Rabbi said. However, chemical and pasting materials are imported from China, Myanmar and Malaysia.
The market size has reached Tk 3,000 crore, including Tk 480 crore spent on importing MDF board, according to an industry estimate.
Although there is no reliable data, industry people say around Tk 10,000 crore has been invested in the industry by 15 to 16 big and small-sized factories.
Major manufacturers are Akij Particle Board Mills, Star Particle Board Mills, Super Particle Board Mills, MRS Industries, Amber Boards, Multi Panels, Woodland Plywood & Particle Board Mills, Bengal Plywood Mills, Otobi, Diamond Particle Board Mills, and Maya Particle Board Mills.
The labour-intensive industry has created around 15,000 jobs, directly.
The annual demand for particle boards is 76 crore square feet and the consumption is expected to continue in the coming years as a result of rapid urbanisation.
Shahriar Zaman, manager for marketing of Akij Particle Board Mills, says the demand for particle board is on the rise thanks to the lower price compared to wooden furniture as well as their use in interior designing at corporate offices.
Of the total consumption of particle boards in Bangladesh, 54 per cent is used in the furniture sector and the rest in interior designing by commercial or corporate clients.
The burgeoning housing and furniture sectors have contributed hugely to the growth of the particle board market.
"When a sector develops, the backward linkage also develops. So, the particle board market is growing in keeping with the furniture sector," said Selim H Rahman, chairman and managing director of Hatil Furniture, one of the largest furniture manufacturers in Bangladesh.
Faizur Rahman Khan, managing director of BTI, one of the leading real estate developers, says his company uses doors made up of particle boards at flats.