Canadian Biomass Magazine

Global wood chip trade increases

March 28, 2011
By Hakan Ekstrom | Wood Resources International

Mar. 28, 2011, Seattle, WA – In 2010, pulp markets improved, and global shipments of wood chips were up substantially.

Mar. 28, 2011, Seattle, WA – The
international financial crisis in 2009 had a major negative effect on worldwide
demand for pulp and paper products. As a result, the consumption of wood chips
and pulpwood for pulp production was lower, and global trade of wood chips fell
accordingly. However, in 2010, pulp markets improved, and global shipments of
wood chips were up substantially.

The wood chip trade had increased on
average 5%/year between 2002 and 2008, reaching an all-time high of
approximately 33 million tons in 2008. This upward trend was broken in 2009,
when trade fell 17% from the previous year. In 2010, wood chip shipment volumes
increased by 25% to reach a new high. This was primarily thanks to a
substantial increase in demand for wood chips in China, as reported in the
latest issue of the Wood Resource Quarterly.

China has evolved from being a net exporter
of chips five years ago to being a major chip consumer, having quadrupled
imports in just two years. It now imports more than 28% of all chips traded in
the Pacific Rim and is the world’s second largest importer of wood chips after

Trade of wood chips is still highest in the
Pacific Rim, accounting for almost 60% of the total global trade and over 95%
of water-born trade. The major exporting countries in 2010 have not changed
much from previous years, with Australia the biggest exporter, followed by
Chile, Vietnam, United States, and Thailand. These five countries together
export just over 19 million tons, or 22% more than the previous year. A
majority of the shipments are Eucalyptus wood chips destined for pulp mills in
Japan and China.


Trade of wood chips is likely to increase
in 2011 as the global economy slowly recovers. As a consequence, the demand for
most forest products will improve. Many energy companies in Europe are
searching for new sources of biomass, which will further expand the overseas
trade of wood chips, biomass chips, and wood pellets.

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