Report: U.S. surpassed Canada in wood pellet exports

By Anna Simet | October 09, 2012

A new report by Wood Resources International says the U.S. pulled ahead of Canada for wood pellet exports during the first half of 2012.

Canada was previously the world leader of pellet exports, but the U.S. South has significantly expanded production in recent years. This has enabled the U.S. to export more pellets to Europe, surpassing 1.5 million tons this year. WRI forecasts that number to reach to 5.7 million tons in 2015. 

Canadian exports continued to rise throughout 2012—by 14 percent—the report says, in response to European demand. In the U.S. South, export volumes increased by 13 percent in just the second quarter, despite some setbacks at a few pellet plants. New volumes from Enviva’s Virginia port facility, Fram Renewables’ and Low Country Biomass in South Carolina contributed to export growth over the past 15 months, according to WRI.

The report predicts that growth to continue, as during the third quarter of 2012, three companies announced plans for new pellet plants in Georgia and six are current under construction in the south, adding as much as 4.2 million tons of exported wood pellets by 2015.

Concluding that exports from both Eastern and western Canada are also on schedule to grow, the report suggests that it won’t be at the explosive rate being witnessed in the U.S. South. “Several new Canadian pellet facilities, such as Holbrook Forest Products in Roddickton, Newfoundland, have expressed their intentions to export pellets, but have yet to do so for various reasons, including inadequate export dock facilities,” it says.