The Association of Pallet Networks (APN) has revealed 15.7 million pallets were delivered by its member networks last year, which on a restated basis was 13% ahead of 2012.

Next Day services delivered growth of more than 15% in the period, with 66% of all pallets shipped making use of this service.

Paul Sanders, chairman of the APN, said: "Although there is organic growth in the sector, our members have benefited from the wider challenges faced by hauliers in recent years.

"The reduced number of subcontractors in the market place, problems recruiting and retaining HGV permanent and agency drivers, and securing suitable hire trailers have all left their mark on the industry, and have lead to an increase in volumes being channelled through the pallet networks.

"Even though the economy is certainly picking up again, we are seeing much of the volume remaining in the networks."

APN's data suggests consistent growth has happened across all types of pallet sizes. However, quarter pallet services have seen the largest growth compared to last year, up 14% year-on-year.

Last year's figures do not include a contribution from Pall-Ex who were not in membership during this time but who officially rejoined APN as of January 2014.

The boss of Pallet-Track recently said a lack of labour within the road transport industry was pegging back economic recovery.