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If pallets move the world, where are they?

The Victorian Forest Products Association (VFPA) says the current shortage of pallets highlights the need to support sustainable native regrowth forests and native timber harvesting in the state.

“The national pallet shortage demonstrates how much we all rely on them to move our food and virtually every other good around the country,” said VFPA CEO Deb Kerr.

It seems we have taken pallets for granted. Australia has some 140 million pallets in circulation. But if they are such a big part of national and local supply chains, where are they?

Picture of a hardwood pallet

According to the Australian Pallet Survey (Deakin University, 2017), the “supply of hardwood timber is expected to be impacted by a general shortage of hardwood supply in Australia from 2025, as harvesting of native forests transitions to plantations”. It seems like this shortage has arrived four years early.

87.5% of all pallets in Australia are made from timber, and Victoria produces some 1.1 million pallets each year, as well as supplying native hardwood timber to repair pallets every 20-30 trips. The Victorian Government’s decision to phase out native forestry, with a major step-down in 2024, will undoubtedly impact the movements of Australia’s major supermarket retailers.

“As more and more supply issues come to light, from house frames to pallets, we urge the Victorian Government to change their position on native forestry. Forestry is sustainable and, when managed well like it’s done here in Victoria, will continue to produce:

  • vital native timber furniture and other appearance grade products
  • wood fibre and paper and pulp products that we all depend on
  • and of course, the pallets to move our food and other goods around the nation,” continued Ms Kerr.

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 PDF version available here.

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