Surge driven by economic growth, new manufacturing capacities in Eastern Europe and demand for biofuel.
Global production of major wood products surged in 2016 for the seventh consecutive year with a growth rate of three to six percent, according to new data published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The fastest increase in major wood products (industrial roundwood, sawnwood, wood-based panels, wood pellets) occurred in Asia-Pacific, Northern America and Europe driven by positive economic growth, new manufacturing capacities in Eastern Europe, particularly for particleboard and Oriented Strand Board (OSB), as well as growing demand for bioenergy.
“Globally, production of all major products gradually recovered in 2010-2016 from the economic crisis of 2008-2009,” said Mats Nordberg, FAO Senior Forestry Officer. “In 2016, the growth pace in the wood sector doubled compared to the previous year, and this positive trend is likely to continue through 2017-2018 due to global economic development and higher demand for renewable energy.”
Particleboard and OSB production gains momentum
Global production of particleboard and OSB wood panels commonly used in furniture manufacturing and construction saw the fastest growth among all wood product categories. The particleboard production growth rate soared from 0.3 percent in 2015 to 8 percent in 2016, whereas global production of OSB wood panels grew by 10 percent last year compared to a 7 percent increase in 2015. The surge was mainly triggered by new mills in Eastern Europe, including the Russian Federation, as well as increased production in China and Northern America.
Russia has recently overtaken Canada and Germany to become the world’s third-largest producer and consumer of wood-based panels after China and the USA. Canada saw double-digit growth in production and exports of wood-based panels in 2014-2016 thanks to increased sales to the US due to a recovering economy and housing market. China registered the sharpest surge of 42 percent in production of wood-based panels between 2012 and 2016.
“A rapid growth in wood-based panel production means storing more carbon for longer periods compared with other wood product categories such as pulp and paper or wood fuel. This contributes to reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Another positive trend is the increase of recycled wood used in panels which also prevents carbon release,” said Nordberg.
Wood pellets boom continues
The production of wood pellets has increased dramatically in recent years to meet bioenergy targets set by the European Union. In 2016, global production grew by another six percent, reaching 29 million tonnes, more than half of which was traded internationally.
Europe and Northern America accounted for almost all global production (58 percent and 32 percent respectively) and consumption (81 percent and 8 percent respectively).
An increase in the United Kingdom’s and the Republic of Korea’s imports and consumption by 0.7 million tonnes accounted for the increase in the global consumption and imports due to the national renewable energy policies in these two countries.
Consumption of wood pellets in Asia increased by 17 percent. The Republic of Korea became the third largest wood pellets importer after the UK and Denmark, driving up wood pellet production in Viet Nam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Imports of wood pellets also rose in Japan and China.
FAO’s forest products statistics cover 55 product categories, 21 product groups and 245 countries and territories.