North American pellet exports reached a new record high in Q3

By Wood Resources International LLC | February 09, 2015

Pellet exports from North America rose in the third quarter of 2014 after a stable first half of the year that could be characterized as a temporary plateau. While pellet exports to Europe were up just marginally, the increase to Asia was more noticeable. Up until 2014, more than 95 percent of wood pellets leaving US and Canadian ports were destined for Europe.

However, during 2014 there was a shift in Canadian exports from Europe to Asia, with pellet plants in British Columbia shipping record volumes to South Korea during the third quarter of 2014, as reported in the North American Wood Fiber Review. (Note. Due to irregularities with Customs data, NAWFR collects trade data from a number of sources including Canadian and US customs export data, European import data and from quarterly conversations with both pellet exporters and port contacts.)

Total Canadian overseas pellet exports rose slightly in the third quarter of 2014 from the previous quarter, but they were still 15 percent below their high of over half a million tons in the last quarter of 2013. Shipments from both Western and Eastern Canada to Europe fell in the first three quarters of 2014; in the third quarter of 2014, shipments were at their lowest level since 2011. Export volumes for the Asian market have followed a more positive trend, with increased shipments for six consecutive quarters.

British Columbia’s pellet shipments overseas will likely remain stable during most of 2015 until the first of five announced pellet mills starts commercial operation late in 2015 or early 2016. There are currently plans to add over 800,000 tons of pellet capacity in the province during 2015/16 with South Korea being the target market (read more about the expansion plans in the NAWFR,

In the US, pellet exports continue to be dominated by bulk shipments out of the U.S. South to Europe, with only minor container volumes primarily shipped from the U.S. West Coast to Asia. The U..S overseas pellet exports rose to over 1 million tons in the third quarter of 2014, with the growth in shipments having continued without pause since late in 2011.