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Revista Chapingo serie ciencias forestales y del ambiente

versão On-line ISSN 2007-4018versão impressa ISSN 2007-3828

Rev. Chapingo ser. cienc. for. ambient vol.25 no.3 Chapingo Set./Dez. 2019  Epub 19-Fev-2021 

Review article

Global concentration of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) exports

Luiz Moreira Coelho Junior1  * 

Thaisa de Sousa Selvatti2 

Filipe Vanderlei Alencar1 

Márcio Lopes da Silva3 

José Luiz Pereira de Rezende2 

1Universidad Federal de Paraíba, Departamento de Ingeniería de Energías Renovables. Cx. Postal 5115, CEP 58.051-900, João Pessoa - Paraíba, Brasil.

2Universidad Federal de Lavras, Ingeniería Forestal. Cx. Postal 3037, CEP 37200-000, Lavras - Minas Gerais, Brasil.

3Universidad Federal de Viçosa, Ingeniería Forestal. CEP 36570-900, Viçosa - Minas Gerais, Brasil.



Engineered for noble purposes, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is a reconstituted wood panel used to reproduce wood designs and details.


To analyze the global concentration of MDF exports in the period 1995 to 2016.

Materials and methods:

The information was obtained from the statistics division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (©FAO Statistics Division). Export concentration was measured using the following indicators: concentration ratio (CR[k]), Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI), Theil’s entropy index (E), comprehensive concentration index (CCI), Hall and Tideman index (HTI) and Gini coefficient (G).

Results and discussion:

MDF exports grew 9.44 % annually, with China and Germany being the main exporters. The CR(k) indicated moderately low concentration, but with an oligopolistic market structure with high competition. competitiveness. Analysis of the indicators HHI, E, CCI and HTI indicate that there is low concentration and G infers strong inequality that tends to absolute.


Global MDF exports showed an oligopolistic market structure with high competition.

Keywords: wood panel; concentration index; inequality index; oligopolistic market



Proyectado para fines nobles, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) es un panel de madera reconstituida que se usa para reproducir diseños y detalles de madera.


Analizar la concentración mundial de las exportaciones de MDF en el periodo de 1995 a 2016.

Materiales y métodos:

La información se obtuvo en la división estadística de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura (©FAO Statistics Division). La concentración de las exportaciones se midió con los indicadores siguientes: razón de concentración (CR[k]), índice de Herfindahl-Hirschman (HHI), índice de entropía de Theil (E), índice de concentración integral (CCI), índice de Hall y Tideman (HTI) y coeficiente de Gini (G).

Resultados y discusión:

Las exportaciones de MDF crecieron anualmente 9.44 %, siendo China y Alemania los principales exportadores. La CR(k) indicó concentración moderadamente baja, pero con estructura de mercado oligopolista con competencia elevada. Los análisis de los indicadores HHI, E, CCI y HTI indican que hay baja concentración y G infiere desigualdad fuerte que tiende a la absoluta.


Las exportaciones mundiales de MDF presentaron una estructura de mercado oligopolista con competencia elevada.

Palabras clave: panel de madera; índice de concentración; índice de desigualdad; mercado oligopolista


Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered panel composed of wood fibers bonded together with resin under heat and pressure. This wood panel, obtained from forest plantations, is used in the building industry (doors, wall cladding and flooring) and in furniture production in general (Indústria Brasileira de Árvores, 2017).

In 2016, global exports of forest products amounted to 227 billion USD, with wood panels accounting for 15 % of the total (34.4 billion USD); the three main products (76.7 %) were: plywood with 43.4 % (14.93 billion USD), MDF with 18.8 % (6.47 billion USD) and veneer with 14.51 % (4.99 billion USD) (Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], 2017).

Countries with the largest land areas usually have comparative advantages in natural resources, tending to have more primary products. Some countries and regions are much better prepared competitively to take advantage of market opportunities and manage forest resources sustainably (Coelho Junior, Rezende, & Oliveira, 2013). Changes in the market, in the short term, influence individual decisions concerning strategies in the forest sector, and in the long term, enable greater influence on investments in forest plantations and in the industry. Thus, future demand is linked to the adoption of environmental and sustainable energy policies associated with demographic changes, economic growth and regional problems (FAO, 2017).

The growth of an economy is associated with diversification strategies combined with the need to achieve economies of scale and scope. In a broad sense, industrial concentration is understood as a process of increased control exercised by large companies over economic activity and is an important component in competition among countries. There is an inverse relationship between concentration and competition; as concentration rises, the degree of competition decreases, which increases market power (Coelho Junior, 2016).

Industrial concentration indices examine market structure and estimate competitiveness. By means of these indicators it is possible to measure a market’s degree of performance, reflecting the participation of the economic activities involved and analyzing the structure of the industry and its competitiveness (Coelho Junior, 2016; Haguenauer, 2012). Starting in the 21st century, the industrial concentration tests applied to the forestry sector at the international level have been: Noce, Carvalho, and Soares (2005) with sawn wood; Noce, Carvalho, do Canto, da Silva, and Mendes (2007) with plywood; Noce et al. (2008) with particleboard; Coelho Junior et al. (2013) with forest products; Coelho Junior, Rezende, Avila, Oliveira, and Borges (2010), Soares et al. (2014), Soares et al. (2018) and Coelho Junior (2018a) with wood pulp; Schettini et al. (2016) with pellets, Coelho Junior (2016) with pinion; Coelho Junior, Burgos, and Santos Junior (2018b) and Coelho Junior, Burgos, Santos Junior, and Pinto (2019) with firewood; and Selvatti, Borges, Soares, Souza, and Coelho Junior (2018) with MDF supply.

Concentration measures help in making decisions and in guiding public policy. In this context, in search of a better understanding of the international MDF scenario, the aim of this paper was to analyze the global concentration of MDF exports in the period 1995 to 2016.

Materials and methods

Object of study

The concentration of the value of global MDF exports was measured using information available from the statistics division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (©FAO Statistics Division) for the period 1995-2016 (FAO, 2017). This period was used because there is no record of previous years in the FAO database. The 10 main exporting countries were selected based on data from 2016 (production value in millions of US dollars [106 USD]), as well as the top 10 in the ranking and the number of nations participating in exports for the years 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016.

For each country, the geometric growth rate (GGR) was calculated in order to evaluate the alterations (gains and losses) in MDF exports (Cuenca & Dompieri, 2017):

GGR % annual=VfVot-1*100



MDF export value for the final year


MDF export value for the initial year


number of years of the period under study.

Concentration and inequality indices

Concentration indices enable analyzing the market structure, as well as the competitiveness and competition among stakeholders. Indices are classified as partial or summary; partial indices consider the participation in a given market and summary indices use all participants in a sector (Coelho Junior et al., 2013; Resende & Boff, 2002). The indicators used are described below.

The concentration ratio (CR[k]) considers the participation of the main MDF-exporting countries (k = 1, 2, ...n):




market share (%) of country i in the export.

The concentration ratio of the four (CR[4]), eight (CR[8]) and 20 (CR[20]) main MDF-exporting countries was calculated based on the classification of Bain (1959) shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Classification of the concentration ratio of the four (CR[4]) and eight (CR[8]) main MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) exporting countries. 

Classification CR(4) CR(8)
Very high CR(4) ≥ 75 % CR(8) ≥ 90 %
High 75 % ˃ CR(4) ≥ 65 % 90 % ˃ CR(8) ≥ 85 %
Moderately high 65 % ˃ CR(4) ≥ 50 % 85 % ˃ CR(8) ≥ 70 %
Moderately low 50 % ˃ CR(4) ≥ 35 % 70 % ˃ CR(8) ≥ 45 %
Low CR(4) < 35 % CR(4) < 45 %

Source: Bain (1959)

The Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) was proposed by Hirschman (1945) and Herfindahl (1950) independently:




number of nations participating in MDF exports


squared market share of country i

By squaring the market share of country i, the relative weights of each country are evidenced and thus a greater weight is attributed to those with high participation. The limits range from 1/n (lower limit) to 1 (upper limit), where 1/n is the situation of all countries with the same share and 1 where a monopoly or maximum concentration situation occurs.

Resende (1994) proposed the adjusted HHI (HHI*), allowing comparative analyses when the number of exporting countries varies over a period. The variation ranges from 0 (perfect competition) to 1 (maximum concentration).


The classification is as follows (Coelho Junior, 2016): HHI* values < 0.1 indicate an unconcentrated market; 0.1 ≤ HHI* ≤ 0.18, moderate concentration; and HHI* > 0.18, high concentration.

Theil’s entropy index (E) is interpreted inversely to HHI (Resende & Boff, 2002):

E= -i=1nSiln(Si)



number of nations participating in the export


market share of country i in the export


Naperian logarithm.

A lower E value indicates that the concentration is higher; that is, E = 0 indicates monopoly. The upper limit is ln(n) when all countries have equal shares in the market.

The index adjustment proposed by Resende (1994) for intertemporal analysis, ranging from 0 (maximum concentration) to 1 (minimum concentration), was also used:

E*= -1ln(n)i=1nSiln(Si)

The Comprehensive Concentration Index (CCI) was proposed by Horvarth (1970). This indicator has the ability to measure relative dispersion and absolute magnitude, as a way of countering some deficiencies in the above-mentioned indices. CCI represents the sum of the market share of the leading country in world MDF exports with the sum of the squares of the shares of the other countries, weighted by a multiplier. This indicator ranges from 1 (monopoly) to S1+ for perfect competition.




highest market share among countries organized in declining order


market share of country i in the export.

Proposed by Hall and Tideman (1967), the Hall and Tideman Index (HTI) calculates each country’s share, receiving a weight equal to that of its ranking in the construction of the indicator, with respect to the total number. Its main contribution was to incorporate the number of countries (Bikker & Haaf, 2002).




ranking held by the country in descending order


market share of country i in the export.

The HTI varies between 1 and 1/n. As there is similarity with the HHI, the HTI was adjusted in a similar way to the HHI*; the indicator varied between 0 and 1.


The Gini (G) coefficient, proposed by Gini (1912), was originally used to measure income inequality, but can be used to measure the degree of inequality in MDF exports.




number of exporting countries


cumulative share of exports in ascending order


market share (%) of country i in the export.

The index has an interval between 0 and 1, the first being a situation of zero inequality in the market and the second where absolute inequality occurs. The classification is as follows: 0.101 to 0.250 zero to low inequality; 0.251 to 0.500 low to medium inequality; 0.501 to 0.700 medium to strong inequality; 0.701 to 0.900 strong to very strong inequality; and 0.901 to 1,000 very strong to absolute inequality.

Results and discussion

Table 2 shows the evolution of the value of the exports of Brazil and the 10 main countries in the MDF market in 2016, in addition to the top 10 ranking and the geometric growth rate from 1995 to 2016. In this period, the value of global MDF exports increased 9.4 % annually, going from 1 010 MUSD to 6 715 MUSD.

Table 2 Evolution of the value of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) exports, ranking of the top 10 exporters and the geometric growth rate (GGR) from 1995 to 2016. 

Ranking Countries 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 2013 2016 GGR (%)
Value of exports (MUSD)
1 China 5.95 66.92 70.53 78.05 842.76 920.16 1 364.75 1 296.73 29.2
2 Germany 88.60 161.82 801.06 1 550.44 825.76 835.18 762.02 777.40 10.9
3 Belgium* 3.54 93.09 32.34 45.12 566.84 438.63 417.38 457.24 26.0
4 Thailand** 0.00 16.92 42.56 68.97 159.31 224.55 323.02 393.36 33.7
5 Austria 10.00 21.26 27.17 72.06 415.52 381.21 398.63 344.81 18.4
6 Spain 63.45 51.88 72.67 151.21 437.33 207.71 247.07 268.34 7.1
7 New Zealand 132.48 71.09 117.98 148.80 159.65 157.09 189.06 255.78 3.2
8 Turkey 0.62 1.89 6.18 25.30 160.65 220.15 223.29 233.84 32.7
9 Poland 42.0 51.10 43.39 163.29 203.13 186.22 236.29 232.16 8.5
10 Canada 35.71 126.34 185.73 251.27 130.24 127.81 179.83 220.04 9.0
19 Brazil 1.51 3.60 0.80 25.00 14.98 14.82 57.05 95.29 21.8
Rest of the countries 626.55 704.92 833.85 1 468.79 2 087.76 1 883.34 2 148.73 2 140.66 1.9
World total 1 010.41 1 370.83 2 234.26 4 048.30 6 003.93 5 596.87 6 547.12 6 715.65 9.4
Main exporters

*For the period 1995-1999, Belgium-Luxembourg exports were considered. **For Thailand, the GGR was applied for the interval 1996 to 2016. MUSD = millions of US dollars. NZL = New Zealand; GER = Germany; MAL = Malaysia; ITA = Italy; IRL = Ireland; FRA = France; POR = Portugal; SPA = Spain; USA = United States; AUS = Australia; CAN = Canada; BEL = Belgium/Luxemburg; CHN = China; SWI = Switzerland; POL = Poland; AUT = Austria; THA = Thailand and TUR = Turkey. Source: FAO (2017).

In 2016, China accounted for 20 % of global MDF exports, with the country’s MDF export value total growing by 29.2 % per year, going from 5.9 MUSD in 1995 to 1 296 MUSD. Germany ranked second with 11.6 % of exports and had 10.9 % annual growth. Brazil ranked 19th in the 2016 world ranking with 1.4 % of MDF exports and presented significant annual growth of 21.8 %, rising from 1.5 MUSD (1995) to 95.3 MUSD (2016). Indústria Brasileira de Árvores (2017) explained that, in 2016, Brazil ranked eighth as a producer of wood panels in the world (7.3 million m³), but 86 % of production went to the domestic market and the remaining 14 % for export.

According to Table 2, New Zealand, Germany and China stood out as the most significant countries in the study period. China moved up from 18th place in 1995 to 1st place in 2007, consolidating itself in this position starting in 2010. Germany maintained export values that guaranteed its permanence among the top three positions. In 1995, Brazil was ranked 24th and then rose to 20th place in 2016. In the period studied, the countries whose MDF exports grew the most were Belgium, which rose from 21st to 3rd, Thailand from 34th to fourth and Turkey from 27th to sixth.

Figure 1 presents the concentration and inequality indices used to measure the degree of global concentration of MDF exports from 1995 to 2016. Figure 1a shows that the concentration ratio, based on the four leading exporters (CR [4]), indicated oligopoly. According to Scherer and Ross (1990), when the four largest exporting countries have more than 40 % of the market, the structure is oligopolistic. It was also observed that close to 100 % of the market remained with the 20 largest exporters (CR[20]).

Figure 1 Evolution of concentration measures for global MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) exports from 1995 to 2016. (a) Concentration ratio (CR); (b) Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI); (c) Theil’s entropy (E); (d) Gini coefficient (G); (e) comprehensive concentration index (CCI); (f) Hall-Tideman index (HTI). UL = Upper limit; LL = Lower limit. *Adjusted indicator. 

According to the Bain (1959) classification, CR(4) averaged 46.5 %, which characterized a moderately low concentration. In the analysis period there were some oscillations in the concentration pattern of exports. From 1995 to 1999, the concentration was moderately low and between 2000 and 2005 it was moderately high, peaking in 2001 with 59.7 %. After 2005, the sector's concentration fell due to the entry of new MDF-exporting countries, stabilizing at a moderately low concentration.

The eight largest exporters (CR[8]) averaged 68.38 %, showing moderately low concentration. CR(8) decreased from 1995 to 2016, falling from 72.87 % (1995) to 63.4 % (2016). For the years 1995, 1996 and 2000 to 2005, CR(8) became moderately high and remained moderately low. The 20 largest exporters (CR[20]) averaged 92.7 %, with the highest value (99.1 %) recorded in 1995 and the lowest (88.3 %) in 2016.

Figure 1b shows that the HHI indicated little concentration for the sector with small increases in the first five years of the analysis (1995 to 1999). The period of greatest concentration occurred between 2000 and 2004, which was verified by the distance from its lower limit. Beginning in 2005, the HHI demonstrated a competitive market among MDF-exporting countries. HHI* behavior was more evident in these events. Between 2002 and 2004, the sector was classified as moderately concentrated; the highest concentration was in 2003 (0.162) and the lowest in 2006 (0.0394). According to Resende (1994), HHI* classified the MDF export sector as deconcentrated (0.083).

Figure 1c presents Theil’s entropy (E), which indicated low concentration among MDF-exporting countries, in line with the HHI. From 1995 to 1999, the concentration remained stable with small oscillations. From 2000 to 2005, the concentration increased, which was verified by the greater distance from its upper limit. From 2006, the concentration decreased, and the scenario remained stable until 2016. The adjusted entropy (E*) had an average value of 0.666; the year of lowest concentration was 1995 (0.799) and the highest was 2004 (0.588).

Figure 1d shows the inequality of MDF exports through G, with an average value of 0.883 and a strong to very strong classification. During the period analyzed, inequality had two classifications, being from strong to very strong in the years 1995 to 2003, 2006 and 2007, and very strong to absolute in 2004, 2005 and 2008 to 2016. The index showed increasing trends, from 0.762 (1995) to 0.926 (2016), reflecting the increase in the number of MDF-exporting countries which rose from 33 in 1995 to 141 in 2016.

As seen in Figure 1e, the comprehensive concentration index (CCI) had a low concentration from 1995 to 1999. From 2000 to 2005, the CCI went from 0.401 to 0.399 and averaged 0.417, this being the period of highest concentration of MDF exports. In 2006, the CCI had a sharp fall, due to the reduction in MDF exports on the world stage. Small increases occurred in the final years of the study and the index remained stable but showed a low concentration.

The Hall and Tideman index (HTI) is shown in Figure 1f. This index remained close to the value 0 throughout the analysis period, indicating a minimum concentration among MDF-exporting countries. Starting in 1999, concentration in the sector showed a small upward trend, reaching an HTI value of 0.099 and a lower limit of 0.012 in 2005. In 2006, the lowest concentration of the entire period analyzed was observed; from 2007 to 2016, the concentration stabilized, undergoing only small swings. The HTI* averaged 0.056, which shows a complete distribution among MDF-exporting countries. In 1995, the HTI* was 0.050 and decreased to 0.049 at the end of the period studied. The indicator obtained a slight decrease in concentration between 2000 and 2005, dropping from 0.0701 to 0.0687, respectively.


Between 1995 and 2016, global MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) exports grew 9.44 % annually; China maintains hegemony, followed by Germany, both of which remained among the top three in the MDF export ranking. Brazil was ranked 19th. The concentration ratio of MDF-exporting countries indicated that the four and eight most important exporting countries presented a moderately low concentration, but with an oligopolistic market structure with high competition. Nearly 100 % of exports are under the dominance of 20 countries. The analyses of the Herfindahl-Hirschman, Hall and Tideman, Theil’s entropy and comprehensive concentration indices lead us to infer that there is a low concentration in world MDF exports. Despite the increase in the number of exporting countries, there was no significant reduction in the inequality of global MDF exports; according to the Gini coefficient, the inequality was strong to absolute. This information could be useful in decision-making and public policy guidance.


The authors are grateful to Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico - CNPq) for awarding research grants aimed at increasing productivity, and the Office for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - CAPES) for awarding a master's degree grant.


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Received: October 25, 2018; Accepted: July 09, 2019

*Corresponding author:; tel.: +5583981386379

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