Demand for gypsum products is expected to advance 1.8 percent per year through 2005 to 45.1 million metric tons, according to a study conducted by the Freedonia Group. At the same time, the study continued, product value will fall slightly to $3.8 billion, in part the result of a retreat in gypsum board prices from their elevated 2000 levels. A projected decline in housing starts in the United States will trigger a deceleration of growth in North American demand for gypsum board, the study said.

Shipments of prefabricated housing are expected to increase more than 2 percent annually to 570,000 units through 2005, reported another study by the Freedonia Group. The value of prefabricated housing shipments will rise to $20.9 billion through the same period, it concluded.