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FAO Report Highlights Resurgence in Global Wood Production

January 07, 2016
Author: John Greene

Last month, we covered the comprehensive Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) for 2015 released by The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which provides a consistent overview of the world's forests and how they are changing at five- to ten-year intervals. FAO also recently released new data through 2014 noting that there has been a resurgence in global wood production.

Global production of all major wood products demonstrated the most growth since the Great Recession ofPine_Forest 2008-2009. Growth in 2014, including industrial roundwood, sawnwood, wood-based panels and pulp and paper, ranged from 1 - 5 percent, surpassing the pre-recession levels of 2007. The fastest growth was recorded in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the 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.

Production results by product category include:


  • In 2014, global sawnwood production totalled 439 mil­lion metric tons, which was 3.8 percent higher than in 2013 (423 million metric tons) and 17 percent higher than in 2010 (376 million metric tons). This trend is largely due to increasing production in Europe, Northern America and Asia-Pacific.

  • The latest regional production figures for 2014 are as follows:

    • Europe - 147 million metric tons (34 percent)

    • Asia and the Pacific - 129 million metric tons (29 percent)

    • Northern America - 118 million metric tons (27 percent)

    • Latin America and Caribbean - 35 million metric tons (8 percent)

    • Africa – 10 million metric tons (2 percent)

  • The five largest producers of sawnwood are the USA, China, Canada, the Russian Federation and Germany. Together, these five countries produced over half (55 percent, or 242 million metric tons) of the world’s sawnwood in 2014.

    • The US is the largest producer; production grew every year since 2010, reaching 75 million metric tons in 2014.

    • Production in Canada also grew from 2010; overall production in Northern America grew by 20 percent from its level in 2010.

    • Production in the Russian Federation grew during the period and reached 34 million metric tons in 2014, an increase of 17 percent over the five years.

    • While production in Germany remained relatively stable over the period, it almost doubled in China, which showed an increase of 84 percent (from 37 million metric tons in 2010 to 68 million metric tons in 2014), surpassing Canada in 2011 to become the second-largest sawnwood producer.


Paper & Paperboard Markets

  • Paper and paperboard production increased over the period 2010–2014, from 394 million tons to 399 million tons. Production in 2014 remained roughly the same. Almost all of this growth was due to an 8 percent rise in production in the Asia-Pacific region, which offset the decline of 5 percent in Northern America.

  • Production in all of the other three regions remained roughly the same. In 2014, the regional distribution of production was as follows:

    • Asia-Pacific - 187 million tons (47 percent)

    • Europe - 105 million tons (26 percent)

    • Northern America - 84 million tons (21 percent)

    • Latin America and the Caribbean - 20 million tons (5 percent)

    • Africa - 4 million tons (1 percent)

  • After a slight decline in paper production in China in 2013, paper production and consumption resumed growth last year, driving the overall growth trend in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • Exports from the five largest paper and paperboard ex­porters ranged from between 8 million tons to 14 million tons. Germany, the US, Finland, Sweden and Canada exported 54 million tons (48 percent of global exports) in 2014.


Wood Paneling

  • In 2014, global wood-based panel production reached 388 million metric tons, a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year (367 million metric tons).

  • Wood-based panels were the product category that demonstrated the fastest growth in production, owing to the rapid and consistent growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Production surged by 62 percent in the region during 2010-2014, while growing by 9 percent in other regions over the same period.

    • The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 62 percent of global production in 2014 (241 million metric tons)

    • Europe - 78 million metric tons (20 percent)

    • Northern America - 46 million metric tons (12 percent)

    • Latin America and the Carib­bean - 20 million metric tons (5 percent)

    • Africa - 3 million metric tons (1 percent)

  • The five largest producers of wood-based panels (China, the US, the Russian Federation, Canada and Germany) accounted for 68 percent (263 million metric tons) of global production in 2014. China alone accounted for 49 percent of global production in 2014, and the most notable trend was the 75 percent increase in production in China over the period, from 109 million metric tons in 2010 to 191 million metric tons in 2014.

  • The five largest exporters (China, Canada, Germany, Malaysia and Thailand) exported a combined 37 million metric tons in 2014 (equal to 45 percent of global exports). Combined exports from China, Canada and Thailand increased by 49% over the period 2010-2014.


Wood Pellet Production

Production of wood pellet, which are used for thermal heating purposes at both the consumer and industrial scales, grew by 16 percent over the previous year to reach 26 million tons in 2014, primarily driven by increasing consumption in Europe. Europe and North America accounted for almost all global production (60 percent and 33 percent respectively). Europe registered 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 the previous year.

  • In 2014, the regional distribution of production was as follows:

    • Europe - 16.0 million metric tons (61 percent)

    • Northern America - 8.8 million metric tons (33 percent)

    • Asia-Pacific - 1.4 million metric tons (5 percent)

    • Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa - 0.1 million metric tons each (1 percent combined)

  • Production and consumption of wood pellets in Asia more than doubled in 2014 versus the previous year. South Korea has emerged as the fourth largest wood pellet importer after the United Kingdom, Denmark and Italy, helping drive wood pellet production in many countries in the region, especially Vietnam, China, and Thailand.

  • Only one main producer (the US) is among the largest consumers of wood pellets. Four other countries that ranked among the top five consumers of wood pellets in 2014 were the UK, Denmark, Italy and Sweden. Total consumption in these five countries amounted to 14 million tons in 2014, or 55 percent of global consumption.

  • The five largest importers (UK, Denmark, Italy, Republic of Korea and Belgium) imported 11 million tons of wood pellets, an increase of 29 percent from 2013. In the UK, imports increased by 40 percent (from 3.4 million metric tons in 2013 to 4.8 million metric tons in 2014), and in the Republic of Korea imports soared from 0.5 million metric tons in 2013 to 1.8 million metric tons in 2014. Together, these five countries accounted for 79 percent of global imports in 2014.

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