FAO: 19 million metric tons of pellets produced in 2012

By Sue Retka Schill | December 19, 2013

In its first report including wood pellet production figures, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations briefly discussed the surge in pellets, saying wood pellet production has increased 10 times in the last decade, mainly due to the demand created by policies and bioenergy targets in Europe. The FAO’s “2012 Global Forest Products Facts and Figures”presents highlights and trends in the data over the past five years for main forest product groups, including industrial roundwood, sawnwood, wood panels, fiber furnish, paper and wood fuel .

Wood fuel production, (roundwood, wood chips from roundwood and charcoal) remained almost unchanged at the global level, with regional shifts noted. Wood fuel production decreased in North American by 12 percent, Asia-Pacific by 4 percent and Europe by 9 percent from 2008 to 20012 while it increased in Africa by 5 percent and Latin America and Caribbean by 3 percent over the same period. The Asia-Pacific region was the largest wood fuel producer in 2012, accounting for 41 percent of global production at 762 million cubic meters, followed by Africa with a 34 percent share. Charcoal production is relatively small, with Africa leading with a 60 percent share of global production in 2012 at 31 million tons.

In the highlights section, FAO reported 2012 statistics show global wood pellet production was 19 million metric tons, with about half, or 9.3 million metric tons, being traded internationally. Europe and North America account for nearly all global production at 66 percent and 31 percent, respectively, while Europe consumed 80 percent and North American 17 percent.

First proposed in 2008, the specific code for wood pellets was added to the harmonized system for international trad statistics, with 2012 being the first year in use.Thus, beginning with the 2012 data, wood pellets can be clearly and precisely recorded in international trade statistics, the FAO report said. “This change is very important considering the huge growth in wood pellet trade in recent years. FAO (with partner agencies) has started collecting global statistics on production and trade of wood pellets and has just produced the global estimate for the first time.” Further details of the production and trade at the country level can be found in the FAOSTAT Forestry database.