Benelux pellet market expected to more than double by 2020

By Erin Voegele | January 10, 2013

The U.S. is expected to the main supplier of wood pellets in the Benelux market in northwestern Europe this year. A USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Global Agricultural Information Network report published on in January estimates that the U.S. exported 1.25 million metric tons of wood pellets worth $225 million to the region in 2012. The Benelux market consists of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

According to the report, the Benelux imports more than 95 percent of the wood pellets it consumes, and the U.S. has the potential to supply at least half that market. To meet that demand, however, U.S. exports must comply with sustainability requirements.

In the report, the Hague estimates that the wood pellet consumption in the Benelux will more than double between 2012 and 2020, reaching a volume of 5.7 million metric tons. This represents a $1 billion market opportunity. By 2020, the Benelux is expected to require the import of 5.5 million metric tons of pellets.

Regarding quality and sustainability standards, the report notes that Dutch importers of industrial wood pellets are calling for clear, consistent, harmonized, long-term government regulations. According to the report, standardization of pellet quality is also important to the continued development of the international wood pellet trade.

Currently, the development of quality standards and sustainability criteria for wood pellets is set on five different levels in Europe. The top level consists of the European Commission and European Committee for Standardization. The second level includes EU member state governments, while the third level consists of the European Biomass Association and European Pellet Council, which represent the European biomass sector. The fourth level of criteria is set by the Wood Pellet Buyers Initiative, which represents end users of biomass, and finally on the fifth level are standards let by individual private companies. According to the report, these multi-national and different private sector programs represent a potential barrier for trade.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the USDA FAS GAIN website