India is witnessing super surge in high density water resistant MDF, specially after COVID lockdown phase. Every MDF factory is dedicating at least half of the production to Moisture Resistant MDF category. This is a big change in the way MDF is being used in India currently. The MR grade higher density of MDF is gaining grip by replacing some portion of cheap category plywood that was offered as “dipping wala BWR grade” but it was hardly BWR. Many of the contractors who are taking turnkey sites for interiors are now more vocal about using MDF because customer’s role is in aesthetics and timely delivery not on substrate material. What I believe, there is a switch happening with HMR grade MDF and cheap dipping or fake 710 plywood.
This change is slow but on the way for bigger impact. What looks inevitable is, if plywood factories do not gear up for good quality calibrated and genuine water resistant plywood, their production will further go towards more cheaper materials and further cheaper but ultimately there will be (in the next 3 to 6 years span) an end to it and factories will have to realise and move towards changes. One may choose for large volume with 500 truck capacity plant to reduce plywood cost but one cannot survive by offering cheap plywood in a small 40 truck plant. Presently cheap plywood specially below Rs 40/sq ft material is high in demand but that too is going to come under pressure with more MDF plants starting in recent future.
What I foresee is, there is no bottom line for any product when it comes to quality. One may continue to sell cheaper by cutting prices and cost but somewhere a customer loses faith some day and stop buying or recommending that product. (We all know it has happened with cheap Chinese materials already). With time, quality customers and good furniture makers are switching to calibrated genuine MR or BWR ply that will sustain for decades to come.
If plywood factories do not gear up for good quality calibrated and genuine water resistant plywood, their production will further go towards more cheaper materials and further cheaper but ultimately there will be (in the next 3 to 6 years span) an end to it and factories will have to realise and move towards changes.
In recent future, customers will certainly ask for genuine Fire Retardant plywood, genuine health friendly Low Emission E0 or E1 grade plywood, genuine Anti Bacterial ply but to serve them, only those companies will remain alive and grow who have invested in plant, people, R&D and awareness. At present, we are passing through a phase of celebrations, festivals and marriage season in India. Every year this period comes with new deals, new home, vehicle buying, variety of purchases and gifting. The season itself drives the money flow and business momentum irrespective of sentiments and economic scenario. Post COVID-19, Indian panel trade witnessed a very sharp recovery so far, that has helped the industries, traders and retailers to gain confidence, and stand again.
The present scenario reflects strong demand but has started getting hiccups and uncertainty with rising raw material cost. Most of the raw materials are at least costlier by 12-20% in every product category which is gonna be impacting finished product prices and putting further pressure on high quality products. At this hour, dealers and retailers will have to play their role in selling aptly priced material, with respect to right price, fitting to that quality.
The push & efforts required to sell quality materials is always a long enduring & painful process but it is equally rewarding if you see returns in the long term. Promote genuine quality, thickness and grade if you wish to be a long term player.
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Pragat Dvivedi Founder Editor
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