MDF: New-Age Material

Amit Oberoi
MDF is the preferred choice of ready-made furniture manufacturers, and the transition of the Indian wood furniture industry towards ready-made furniture will propel its demand, says Amit Oberoi, Head-Marketing at Greenpanel

How is the MDF furniture industry growing in India?

With increasing urbanization, India is seeing a sea change in the building and construction segment, with the interiors and furniture industry being one of the fastest growing. Affordable housing and the culture of ready-to-move-in offices/retail outlets, with low-cost modular furniture, is comparatively new to India, and fast gaining popularity.

As per a World Bank report, Asia is one of the largest consumers of furniture, with India accounting for a major share. Moreover, the Make in India initiative is encouraging domestic production of furniture. The study states that India's organised furniture market is expected to cross $32 billion by 2019, growing 20% per annum between 2015 and 2020. Simultaneously, the luxury furniture market is projected to reach $27 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 4.1percent during the same period. Like many industries in India, the furniture sector too is primarily unorganised, with handicrafts comprising almost 85% of the total furniture production.

MDF has come a long way in terms of acceptance and consumption in the domestic market. It is being used for endless applications and is gradually replacing plywood. Apart from being used for functional purposes, it is also used for building regular furniture. Architects and interior designer have been instrumental in promoting Greenpanel MDF by specifying them for projects

Amit Oberoi

Increasing awareness of the advantages of MDF, entry of large focused players into the segment, and increasing applications have resulted in significant growth of the MDF industry over the last five years. With labour shortage and raw material shortage of other wood-based materials, MDF becomes an obvious choice. The increasing acceptance of MDF is also defining new trends in architecture and interior design.

In my view, the government should promote use of sustainable products in all the real estate projects that the Government is associated with, such as the Affordable Housing and the Smart City programs. MDF being a sustainable product is far more cost-effective than plywood.

New Age Material

How would you describe MDF as a durable and environment-friendly product?

Medium density fibreboard (MDF) has high, uniform density, ensuring it is strong, durable and environment-friendly. Our top-quality MDF comes with a unique fibre-interlocking technology that lends high bonding strength and rigidity to the boards. Such boards have homogenous construction and zero percent latex, making them ideal for painting and polishing. Add to this the functional features such as termite, fungus and borer resistance, which ensures that the boards are the best solution for contemporary and carved furniture as well as for indoor panelling.

MDF is also an engineered product as it is made up of wood fibres glued together with resin or glue under heat and pressure. It is similar to particle board but denser with a density of 600-800 kg/m³. It also doesn't warp or swell easily in high humidity areas like bathrooms or washrooms. Being manufactured with state-of-the-art European technology, Green Panel MDF boards undergo stringent quality tests and are positioned as world-class, superior quality products.

The boards are produced from 100% renewable and sustainable wood sourced from agro-forestry plantation trees that have a life cycle of 3-4 years and cause no depletion of forest cover area. To maintain stringent quality norms, we have invested in the latest technologies and machines. Dust extraction/fume absorption and ash arresting systems are installed at our MDF plants to ensure optimum emission levels.

New Age Material

How is Greenpanel creating awareness of MDF in the marketplace?

As a company we have been educating the trade about the usage of MDF ever since we forayed into the MDF business. Carpenter meets are organized frequently across the country to educate carpenters on the benefits of MDF and the tools required to work with it. We provide them leaflets and technical brochures on MDF, and we have developed a Carpenter Guru mobile app - a unique, digital platform to enhance their skills and improve their livelihood opportunities by bringing professionalism in the field. The app offers users a platform to gain knowledge about the latest furniture designs, materials and hardware, and learn how to work with them using a range of tools.

What market trends in architecture and interior design prompted you to focus more on your MDF business?

With increasing urbanisation, demand for ready-made furniture, produced with engineered panels like MDF, is growing rapidly. Today's discerning consumer with a busy lifestyle, is looking for interior products which save time, are convenient to use, and are cost-effective, while being stylish. They want functional homes and furniture. Greenpanel MDF from India's largest interior infrastructure company is poised to provide all this and more.

What are the application areas in which MDF can be a better substitute for wood/plywood?

MDF, by virtue of being moldable, cuts across different applications. Also, due to its non-directional grain structure, MDF is ideal for cutting, machining and drilling without splinters or chipping. Apart from functional applications, MDF is also used for decorative purposes. So MDF applications include household and office furniture, wall/ceiling paneling, partitions, cabinets for modular kitchens, wardrobes, doors, wall panels etc. Apart from this, MDF is a better substitute for plywood for making handicraft items, artifacts, photo frames, stationery items etc…. the list is long.

Commercial property is another key demand driver as around 80% of MDF is used in this segment. The shift from cheap plywood to MDF will gain momentum once low-end plywood becomes costlier following implementation of GST

Greenpanel's corporate office in Gurgaon is an architectural marvel with products manufactured by the company used in the most innovative manner. Martand Khosla, the celebrated architect from the Romi Khosla Design Studio, was instrumental in designing the office using MDF extensively from work stations to ceiling fixtures, partitions, table tops etc.

How have GST and RERA brought ease of doing business and transparency, and further strengthened the organized sector of MDF and other wood manufacturers?

The roll out of GST generated a lot of interest and response from the industry with reactions pouring in from across the country. The plywood, plyboard, medium density fibreboard and particle-board industry saw GST rate reduce to 18% from 28%. Most unorganised players evade taxes and sell their products through under-pricing vis-à-vis organised counterparts with a price differential range up to 30-50%.

Many unorganised players also avail the Small-Scale Industry (SSI) benefit by keeping their turnover artificially below the prescribed limit. Under the new GST regime, the exemption limit is expected to be 2 million, which would bring all unorganised players within the tax ambit, forcing them to increase prices and narrow the price differential.

Moreover, currently there is no credit that a dealer can avail of for the excise duty paid, but under GST this will be allowed, reducing the price for both dealers and consumers by around 10%. Thus, the overall price differential between branded and unbranded plywood players is expected to fall by 10-20% under GST, thereby, accelerating the shift from the unorganised to the organised segment.
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