Global production of all major wood products is showing its largest growth since the global economic downturn of 2008-2009, according to new data published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The U.N. food agency said in a statement that in 2014, growth in wood products, including industrial roundwood, sawnwood, wood-based panels and pulp and paper, ranged from 1 to 5 percent, surpassing the pre-recession levels of 2007. The fastest growth was registered in Asia-Pacific and Latin America and Caribbean.
“Wood industries were among the hardest hit by the recent global economic downturn in 2008-2009. We are seeing now the highest growth of the global wood industries in the last five years, which is important to national economies and the wellbeing and livelihoods of millions of forest-dependant people worldwide,” said Thais Linhares-Juvenal, head of the FAO’s Forest Economics and Statistics Team.
Wood pellet production sets new record
The statement said production of wood pellets, which are used as fuel, set a new record in 2014, growing by 16 percent over the previous year to reach 26 million tonnes, mainly driven by increasing consumption in Europe. Europe and North America accounted for almost all global production (60 percent and 33 percent respectively).
Europe registered by far the largest consumption (78 percent) followed by the US (12 percent). Trade in pellets from Northern America to Europe (mainly the UK) increased by 25 percent in 2014 from previous year.
Production and consumption of wood pellets in Asia more than doubled in 2014 versus the previous year, the statemetn said, adding South Koreahad emerged as the fourth largest wood pellet importer after the United Kingdom, Denmark and Italy, helping drive up wood pellets production in many countries in the region, especially Vietnam, China, and Thailand.
Wood pellets have been used by European and other countries, including South Korea and Japan, to meet their renewable energy goals. The demand for wood pellets as a green energy source has increased significantly since 2008 and is expected to grow as more and more countries commit to mitigation actions on climate change.
Surge in production of wood-based panels and sawnwood
Production and consumption of wood-based panels and sawnwood continues to grow strongly in all regions as well. Global production of panels and sawnwood increased by 5 percent and 4 percent respectively, the statement said. Wood-based panels was the product category that saw the fastest growth in production, due to the rapid and consistent growth in the Asia-Pacific region (mainly China which accounts for 49 percent of global production). Overall, production surged by 62 percent in the Asia-Pacific during 2010-2014 while it grew modestly by 9 percent in other regions over the same period, according to the report.
Paper markets resume growth in China
Production of paper stagnated in Europe and declined in North America in 2014, but grew modestly in Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. After a slight decline in paper production in China in 2013, paper production and consumption resumed growth there last year, driving the overall growth trend in the Asia-Pacific.
South America emerging as new big player in global wood pulp market
South America has gradually emerged as the world’s leading exporter of wood pulp with new pulp mills being built in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Last year the region accounted for 30 percent of global wood pulp exports. In 2014, Brazil overtook Canada for the first time as the world’s fourth largest country in fibre furnish production – wastepaper, other fibre pulp and wood pulp used to manufacture paper – after the United States, China and Japan, it added.