March 1, 2019 

In This Week's Pellet Wire:


From the Director’s Desk—Our Late Season Surge

The sound of snowplows awakened me this morning. The “overnight flurries” that were predicted amounted to just over two inches and once again I and many others across the upper Midwest were firing up snowblowers before the morning commute. This February is now the snowiest February in Twin Cities history and our 10-day forecast doesn’t currently contain a day with temperatures above freezing. From a weather perspective, at least here, this winter has been ideal for wood pellet sales. In nearly every conversation with our producer members, I’m hearing about strong pellet order activity all the way through the month. For some of our members, replenishment orders begin to level off in February and if the back half of the month has a warming trend, orders can slow dramatically. This year it seems clear that strong demand is likely to persist well into March and it looks like we’ll be rolling into the spring and summer inventory build-out playing a bit of catch up. 

Industry veterans know, however, that our industry has a bit of a Goldilocks problem in that finding that “just right” balance of available inventory, demand, and fiber availability can prove elusive indeed. This year is certainly a sterling example of that. Throughout our membership ranks the number one concern this year has been fiber availability. While this heating season delivered the prolonged periods of lower temperatures we all need, it also brought with it a variety of fiber bottlenecks. A prolonged mud season in the Northeast kept loggers out of the woods, logs out of sawmills, and dust and chips out of pellet plant woodyards. For other producers, Chinese tariffs on hardwoods meant ratcheted-down dimensional lumber production which also curtailed chip and dust availability. 

While balancing strong and prolonged demand with inventories that are tighter than most folks would like, I’m not hearing many complaints. I was lamenting the tight fiber markets with a member recently who pointed out that he would take a condition of too much demand over too little any day of the week. As we enter the last phase of this year’s heating season I’ll be interested to hear from our members when orders for the finished product do begin to fall off and how long it takes for producers to begin building inventory for the early buy season that suddenly feels like it’s just around the corner. 

—Tim Portz
Executive Director



Become a 2019 PFI Sponsor Now! 

Don't miss the opportunity to sponsor PFI in 2019! Sponsorship at all levels brings many perks, along with exposure for your company to the pellet fuels industry. By signing up to sponsor the association early in 2019, you will reap the benefits throughout the coming year.

The 2019 sponsorship packages include benefits such as:

  • PFI Annual Conference registrations
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  • Weekly newsletter advertising
  • Website advertising
  • And more!

PFI's membership list includes more than 100 companies, and the Pellet Wire, our electronic newsletter, is sent to close to 2,000 subscribers every week. Now is the time to become a sponsor of this organization. Visit our website to explore how you can become involved.


Join Us in Dallas for Breakfast & Biomass March 15

Don't miss out on Breakfast & Biomass at the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Expo in Dallas, Texas, next month! The breakfast will be held on Friday, March 15th, at 8:00 am. We hope to see you there. Details on how to register can be found on the PFI website


Photo of the Week—American Wood Fibers
We're building a collection of photos of our members, their pellets mills and product. Send them to Carrie Annand at [email protected]. This week’s featured photo is from Stephen Faehner with American Wood Fibers.

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Upcoming Industry Events

March 14–16, 2019: HPBA Expo 2019

June 4–6, 2019: 2019 PFI Annual Conference 

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Industry News

5 Best Pellet Grills to Buy in 2019 
Good Housekeeping Magazine

If you're looking for the convenience of a gas grill with the taste and flavor of a wood smoker, wood pellet grills offer wood-smoked taste with a set-it-and-forget-it mentality. Plus, no need for natural gas or propane as they plug into a standard electrical outlet. For use, you load hardwood pellets (hence the name) into a hopper. The pellets make their way to a fire pot beneath the grill via a motorized auger. A hot rod in the pot is used to ignite the pellets to create a fire to cook the food. A fan stokes the fire creating convection to cook your food.

The Good Housekeeping Institute’s top pick is the Traeger Pellet Grill Pro Series. Traeger is synonymous with pellet grills, as they were the first manufacturers of them. This grill and smoker is versatile enough to also bake, roast, braise and barbecue on. With nearly 600 square inches of grilling area, you can fit several whole chickens or 20 burgers on it, enough to feed the fam and neighbors, too!

Read Full Article


Skeena Sawmills, PacBio Enter Wood Pellet Off-take Agreement 
Biomass Magazine

Skeena Sawmills Ltd. and Pacific BioEnergy Corp. (PacBio) have entered into a long term off-take agreement for wood pellets. Under the terms of the agreement, PacBio will purchase all of the pellets produced at Skeena Sawmills’ new, state-of-the-art pellet plant, in support of PacBio’s long term supply agreements with power producers in Japan. Skeena’s pellet plant is built adjacent to it’s sawmill in Terrace, British Columbia, and will commence production in Q1 2019.

“Skeena’s pellet plant provides a critical outlet for residual fiber from the sawmill and builds on our commitment to maximizing value from the forest resource and generating local jobs from local logs in Northwestern British Columbia,” said Rick Harris, vice president of sales and marketing for Skeena Sawmills. “Our $20 million investment to build a pellet plant, combined with this long-term strategic partnership with PacBio to serve international markets for bioenergy, supports the sustainability of both our business model and the regional forest economy.”

Read Full Article


6 Takeaways from the Wood Pellet Silo Fire Workshop
Canadian Biomass

Read Full Article


 

Pellet Fuels Institute

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