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What is the “mean pallet?”

No, it’s not a pallet with a bad attitude. Mean pallet refers to the “average location” of all the pallets in the world.

It might be described as the center of gravity of all pallets, carrying goods or not, worldwide. Although it’s considered a myth by some, others believe it to be a pretty good measure of where the most shipping activity is occurring, and hence, the most manufacturing… a virtual barometer of worldwide economic activity.

Since only a small percentage of pallets are equipped with GPS tracking devices, the mean average is little more than a wild estimate. And it can often end up in some illogical places, such as its current location, somewhere in the Caspian Sea.

However, this location is not surprising when one considers the high level of manufacturing in the Far East. Interestingly, cargo ships have gotten so large, that they can sometimes distort the mean average.

When experts first began calculating the mean pallet in the early 60’s, it was estimated to be over the Eastern Mediterranean, south of Turkey.

Mark White, an emeritus professor at Virginia Tech and director of the Sardo Pallet and Container Research Laboratory once said, “Pallets move the world.” That’s a pretty impressive feat for something that’s almost invisible for most people.

And yet, there they are… stacked behind your local grocers, loaded with George’s Barbecue sauce at your local wholesale club, and of course, secured with twine in that old, rusty Ford pickup just ahead.

It’s been estimated that 80 percent of all our country’s commerce is transported on pallets. Even more amazing, one source estimates that over 46% of total U.S. hardwood lumber production goes into pallets.

Whether myth or fact, the concept of a mean pallet proves that the lowly pallet has made a tremendous contribution to global development.

 

 

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