The issue of foam shortages affecting the British furniture manufacturing sector has been raised in Parliament.
Hilary Benn MP, Labour member for Leeds Central, submitted a Written Question on foam and particleboard shortages late last month (November).
The MP for Leeds Central asked Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what representations he had received on the effect of shortages of foam and particleboard on the UK furniture industry.
In a statement in response, Nadhim Zahawi said:
“The issue on the effect of shortages of foam and particleboard on the UK furniture industry has been raised with the Department through correspondence, as well as engagement with the UK furniture sector.
“Various factors have contributed to a severe lack of raw materials for manufacturers, including successive storms in the Gulf of Mexico, annual turnarounds at chemical plants in Europe, and technical issues at another plant. This has subsequently impacted the cost of these materials.
“The reported issues with the supply of some chemicals used in foam production is a commercial issue and likely a result of an increased global demand on these materials.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and engage with the furniture sector to gain a better understanding of the situation and its impact.”
Before the issue was raised in Parliament, the BFC had raised concerns with the government.
The British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) also wrote to members of the supply chain to establish the causes and actions being taken to address price hikes and shortages in foam materials.
Jonathan Hindle, Chairman of the BFC, said:
“This is a national issue. Furniture manufacturers across Britain are facing the same challenges, to source materials to enable their factories to operate and maintain production.
“Furniture manufacturers face severe disruption, which is impacting on operations and the ability to fulfil orders.
“We need to understand and assure our industry when we can get back to normality and previous prices.
“We welcome the fact this issue has been raised in Parliament and we will continue to push for action to resolve the problem as a matter of urgency.”