Thursday, 01 December 2016 10:34

Wood Pellet Imports to the UK Fell 24% Year-Over-Year in August after Record High Imports During the First Half of 2016

Wood pellet imports to the United Kingdom have gone up dramatically the past five years and are likely to reach a new all-time-high in 2016, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. The US South is the main supplying region with shipments having increased eight-fold since 2012.

1251673The United Kingdom is by far the largest importer of wood pellets in the world followed by Denmark, South Korea and Belgium. In the 2Q/16, the UK imported record volumes of just over two million tons, which was 11% higher than the previous quarter and 21% more than in the 2Q/15. Pellet producers in the US South continue to be the major suppliers to the UK, accounting for about 50% of the total import volume in the 2Q/16. The other major supplying countries are Canada and Latvia.

Monthly pellet import data to the United Kingdom is reported in more detail in a recent WRQ Trade Snapshot (NEW service) that is available to subscribers of the Wood Resource Quarterly.

Some of the highlights in the Snapshot included:

  • Ninety percent of all wood pellet imports to the United Kingdom in the 2Q/16 were shipped from only three countries, the US, Canada and Latvia.
  • Import volumes in August this year fell by 24% year-over-year to the lowest level in 1½ years.
  • Import prices have been fairly stable the past 12 months with prices for US sourced pellets having been $20-40/ton higher than prices for pellets from other supplying regions.

Pellet manufacturers in the US South have been a reliable and steadily growing supplier to the UK over the past five years. In 2012, the UK imported less than half a million tons from the US and in 2016, shipments may reach more than eight times as much, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. 

The surprise Brexit vote earlier this year to leave the EU is unlikely to impact near-term pellet exports from North America to the UK as supply contracts remain in place, and official negotiations regarding the EU exit process are yet to begin. However, in the longer term, the decision to stay outside the European Union could impact policy decisions regarding bioenergy incentives with subsequent market impacts.

The North American Wood Fiber Review has tracked wood fiber markets in the US 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, lumber, wood pellets and wood chips.

Wood Resources International LLC (WRI), an internationally recognized forest industry-consulting firm established in 1987, publishes two quarterly timber price reports and have subscribers in over 30 countries. The Wood Resource Quarterly, established in 1988, is a 52-page market report and includes sawlog prices, pulpwood and wood chip price and market commentary to developments in global timber, biomass and forest industry. The other report, the North Americam Wood Fiber Review, tracks prices of sawlogs, pulpwood, wood chips and biomass in most regions of Canada and the US.

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