Canadian Biomass Magazine

Asian woodchip imports decline after 7 consecutive growth years

April 2, 2018

April 2, 2018 - After reaching record high volumes every year from 2010-2016, Asian woodchip imports actually declined in 2017. But even as demand growth slows, some of the region's top woodchip producers are already struggling to maintain export volumes. Prices for softwood chips have spiked in early 2018, and the potential for future hardwood chip shortages is explored in detail by the International Pulpwood Trade Review 2018 (IPTR18), released by RISI, the leading business intelligence provider for the global forest products industry.

“Overall Asian woodchip import demand has slowed sharply, but export volume from suppliers like Thailand and Indonesia has been falling rapidly. Ongoing supply issues with key producers indicate a potential shortfall of at least 2 million bone dry metric tonnes (BDMT) of hardwood chips by 2022,” said Bob Flynn, director of international timber at RISI and co-author of the annual IPTR report, now in its 25th edition.

Prices for Douglas-fir woodchips have experienced unprecedented spikes in early 2018, and hardwood chip prices made their largest one-year jump since 2011. IPTR18 explores the potential for new softwood and hardwood chip sources, along with addressing other urgent questions for the global woodfiber trade.

“On the demand side, there has been renewed interest in northern Europe for woodchip imports for both pulp production and biomass energy in early 2018,” said Flynn. “But demand for biomass woodchip imports in Japan is already greater than in Europe, and wood pellet and PKS imports are also increasing rapidly. We’re also seeing ocean freight costs climb again after bottoming out in 2016. But the key question for the next several years involves exports from the key hardwood chip suppliers: Vietnam, Australia, Chile and South Africa.”

Shipping costs, increased production outside Asia, and the ongoing boom in biomass power generation are among the market drivers explored by Flynn and co-author Dennis Neilson of DANA Ltd., who together bring decades of experience to IPTR18’s analysis.


International Pulpwood Trade Review 2018, offered as part of RISI’s International Pulpwood Trade Service, is an essential tool for the international trade of woodchips, pulplogs, and biomass fiber. This annual report examines the markets for globally traded pulpwood fiber and the pulpwood resources for domestic and export supply in more than 35 countries.

Included in the 25th edition of the IPTR:

  • Asian woodchip trade forecast 2018-2022.
  • Detailed information on recent changes to export woodchip and biomass supply.
  • Analysis of pulplog and woodchip import markets, including the Asia-Pacific and Atlantic Region markets.
  • Trends in woodchip prices, and forecast of key species to 2022.
  • Updated analysis of international trade in biomass chips and pellets.
  • Direct contact details for woodchip and pulp log suppliers and buyers in the Pacific and Atlantic markets.
  • Profiles of more than 70 woodchip export facilities around the world, including volumes and species of each export chip supplier, main purchasers and end-users and outlook for supply.
  • A complete list of woodchip carriers by age, size, owner and charterer.
  • Monthly updates on Asian woodchip markets, including volumes and prices.

For more information on this study, please visit 

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