C&D South West are proud founding members of Palletforce, one of the UK’s industry leading Pallet Networks within the sector. Pallet Network Membership allows C&D to offer a wide variety of flexible service options to a range of clients, adapting to their operational needs. The Association for Pallet Networks have recently released the Q1 volume results for 2023, that continue to show strong growth across the sector.

The Association of Pallet Networks has a membership of eight pallet networks in the UK, including Palletforce. All eight networks combined represent 800 hauliers, more than 24,000 vehicles and over 13 million sq ft of warehouse space collectively.

The Q1 figures for 2023 show a defined shift in the post-COVID market place, with key points including:

• 6.3% volume growth for Q1 2023 against 2019 figures
• Seven million pallets delivered
• B2C up 32% compared with Q1 2019
• Economy services up by 21%
• Quarter pallets 11% up against pre-pandemic numbers
• 60% of pallets on Next Day delivery with 16% having an agreed time window

The pallet network sector has enjoyed a strong and encouraging start to the year, but trends suggest significant and lasting shifts in customer preference since 2019, says APN chairman Paul Sanders. Most significantly, home deliveries have become a significant and growing part of network portfolios, with
32% growth since Q1 2019. This in turn has driven the growth in the use of quarter pallets, which is up 11%.

“The home delivery market was characterised by strong growth pre-pandemic, and then fuelled immensely by lockdown and home working. However, we can now see that this is a continuing trend, and is changing the profile of network deliveries, both in location and pallet size,” says Sanders.

Overall growth is at 6.3% against 2019 with seven million pallets delivered in Q1.

“The past three years were characterised by surges in volume, first from lockdown and then from pent up demand,” says Sanders. “However, we can now see that there is still real and significant growth in the sector, despite the uncertainties of the economic outlook.”

However, inflationary factors, including higher energy and finance costs is also visible in the figures. The use of economy services has grown by 21%:

“Business is conscious of spending in these difficult economic times,” says Sanders. “Our members’ economy services offer excellent value to help customers lower transport costs.”

However, Next Day services still account for more than 60% of all pallets delivered, with 16% of next day consignments having a timed delivery window.

“Networks offer a wide range of delivery options, and it is a healthy sign that customers are differentiating between the freight which must be delivered as rapidly as possible and that which can have a more flexible delivery date. This keeps costs manageable for the customer and facilitates better and more environmentally friendly trailer utilisation by members,” says Sanders.

Safety is also key within this, across all pallet networks and the statistics behind this evidence that.

“Safety is a core pillars at APN, and we are proud of our continued approach to best practice sharing. We reduced accidents by 5.3% this year, despite levels being very low already,” said Sanders. “Pallet networks have an impressive safety record, with just 0.52 accidents per 100,000 pallets delivered.”

APN has worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Drivers and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) on pallet weight safety. APN data suggests that pallet weights continue to decline, averaging 362kg in Q1 2023. The APN is leading an Industry Collaboration Group along with the Road Haulage Association (RHA), HSE, and DVSA to develop best practices in load security and the challenges faced by the industry.

To find out more regarding pallet network operations or if you need a new pallet distributinon partner,  do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the team at C&D South West to discuss this further.

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