Shortage of pellets, should we be worried?

The wood pellet industry experienced an unprecedented crisis in the spring of 2022. A sharp increase in demand, a significant shortage, but also a not insignificant price increase marked this year. How will the situation evolve? Should we worry about 2023? Let's do a check in.

A critical situation in 2022

The tense situation between Russia and Ukraine has led to a general increase in the price of energy on the world market. Many French people then decided to turn to heating systems based on renewable energies such as wood pellets. Especially since the renewal of oil-fired appliances was prohibited from July 2022. The requests then increased considerably. But that's not all !

Particularly worried about the explosion in electricity and gas prices, consumers began to stock up on wood pellets in the spring of 2022. In addition, some bought more than usual, fearing a shortage reserves in winter. Added to this is a decrease in available stocks. Indeed, 15% of wood pellets sold in France come from Ukraine, Russia or Belarus. And unfortunately, the import has been suspended due to the geopolitical context.

For their part, producers have already prepared for a significant increase in demand for wood pellets. However, they didn't think consumers would stock up so early. Result ? They were taken aback by the phenomenon. Some suppliers have even been forced to refuse customers. This is how the shortage set in.

Price increase

The overall increase in energy prices induced by the Ukrainian situation has led to an increase in the production and transport costs of wood pellets. Indeed, an additional cost fluctuating around €120 was observed for the production of one tonne of pellets. Suppliers were therefore forced to increase their selling price.

But does this justify a price increase of almost 100% in one year? Because yes, the cost of a ton of wood pellets had gone from 300 € to around 550 € in barely 1 year. To answer the question, a large portion of consumers think not. According to them, this is a suspicious maneuver. However, nothing seems to confirm this.

Conclusion: should we worry about 2023?

Finally, the shortage of 2022 was the consequence of various factors:

  • The increase in demands due to the global increase in the cost of energy;
  • Early consumer supply;
  • Anticipatory storage.

It is therefore possible to avoid another crisis in 2023. To do this, it is necessary above all to avoid overstocking at the consumer level. Buy only the quantity you need. Also, it is important to properly maintain your devices to optimize their performance. For its part, the sector is already taking the necessary steps to increase production capacity by 2024 and double it by 2028. As far as prices are concerned, they could fall, but the chances of them going back down to 'at €300/tonne seems slim.