Canadian Biomass Magazine

U.S. wood pellet exports up in 4Q/2014; Canadian trending downward

May 12, 2015
By Wood Resources International LLC

May 12, 2015 - Exportation of wood pellets from North America to Europe and Asia reached an all-time high rising 22 percent in 2014 from the previous year, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review (NAWFR). 

Shipments from the U.S. were up 40 per cent year-over-year, while Canada exported six per cent less in 2014 than in 2013. (Note. Due to irregularities with customs data, NAWFR collects trade data from a number of sources including Canadian and U.S. customs export data, European import data and from quarterly conversations with both pellet exporters and port contacts.)

U.S. exports to Europe increased for the twelfth consecutive quarter, reaching a new high of just over 1.1 million tons in the 4Q/14. Minor volumes of pellets to Asia, shipped by containers from the U.S. West Coast, fell as manufacturers concentrated on seasonal local demand.

By far the largest consumer of U.S. pellets that past year has been the United Kingdom, which in the 4Q/14 was the destination of 73 per cent of U.S. export volumes. However, the U.K. market has not always been in such a dominant position. In 2013, the share was 55 per cent and in 2012 only a modest 31 per cent.

With over 20 new export-oriented pellet plants being built or having credible plans to operate in the next two years in the Southern States, further significant growth in North American pellet exports can be expected. Track the latest market developments in the NAWFR (


British Columbia’s overseas pellet exports in the 4Q/14 fell by 15 per cent from the previous quarter. While exports to Europe rose, shipments to Asia were substantially lower than in the 3Q/14. The slowdown from a labour dispute at the port of Vancouver, together with rail transportation challenges in the Interior of B.C., contributed to the reduced export activities during the quarter. The major destinations for Canadian pellets in 2014 were in ranking order, the United Kingdom, the U.S., Italy and South Korea. Total export volumes from both Western and Eastern Canada trended downward for most of 2014 and in the 4Q/14 reached their lowest levels since mid-2012.

Not withstanding the 4Q/14 slump in B.C. pellet shipments to Asia, pellet exports from Western Canada will likely continue to flow steadily until new production capacity is added in late 2015. The potential for increased pellet exports to Japan and South Korea remains strong, though specific agreements have yet to materialize.

The North American Wood Fiber Review has tracked wood fibre markets in the U.S. and Canada for over 20 years and it is the only publication that includes prices for sawlogs, pulpwood, wood chips and biomass in North America. The 36-page quarterly report includes wood market updates for 15 regions on the continent in addition to the latest export statistics for sawlogs, wood pellets and wood chips.

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