Insurance, Incident Prevention and Global Market Constraints

In October, Pellet Mill Magazine conducted an industry survey to gain insight about some of the challenges wood pellet manufacturers were facing as a result of the pandemic, inflation and lack of workforce.
By Anna Simet | May 25, 2022

In October, Pellet Mill Magazine conducted an industry survey to gain insight about some of the challenges wood pellet manufacturers were facing as a result of the pandemic, inflation and lack of workforce. One surveyee cited the difficult insurance environment, commenting, “Our plant insurance premium went from $85,000 annually to over $350,000, and only a handful of carriers were willing to even consider insuring wood products manufacturers.”

Since then, I have heard similar remarks on a number of occasions, which is what led me to pursue our page-12 feature, “Ensuring Better Insurance Rates.” Being honest, it was a challenge finding sources who would have on-record discussions with me, but the insurance industry professionals I did speak with had some useful information to share about the scenario that wood pellet and other wood product manufacturers are in right now. This included suggestions regarding careful selection of an insurance broker—one important guideline is to find someone who is familiar with the business, knows how to market your operation to carriers, and is remarketing in proper intervals.

As for other content related to dust management and fire/explosion protection, there is plenty—be sure to check out our page-20 contribution that summarizes industry relevant data from the 2021 Combustible Dust Incident Report. In it, Chris Cloney, managing director at DustEx Research Ltd., provides a summary of the dust fires and explosions uploaded into the combustible dust incident database throughout the year, which analyzes the materials, equipment and industries involved in incidents. 

Finally, I will highlight staff writer Katie Schroeder’s coverage of the European Pellet Conference that was held in Wels, Austria, in early April. The story focuses on global market updates, and includes some summaries of presenters from Japan, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Austria. As I expected, it was mentioned several times that the Russian invasion of the Urkaine is predicted to pose challenges for European domestic heating pellet markets (among the other mounting energy challenges), whether directly or indirectly (and you’ll find this topic mentioned on several other pages as well). Christian Rakos, CEO of ProPellets Austria and president of the World Bioenergy Organization, touched on the constraints in his presentation, but pointed out a potential silver lining, a note that I will end on: “While European producers are bracing themselves for a tight winter with high demand from consumers, the situation does provide bioenergy producers an opportunity to show how renewable fuels can bring more reliability and lower cost to consumers.” 

Anna Simet, EDITOR
[email protected]

Printed in Issue 2, 2022 of Pellet Mill Magazine