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Brazilian wood pellet exports hit new highs in 2020, as deliveries to the UK nearly trippled and the number of export destinations rose.

Brazil exported 361,000t of wood pellets in 2020, up by 65.6pc on 2019. Fourth-quarter exports more than doubled on the year to 114,000t, and were up by 14pc on July-September. December exports totalled 25,000t, up by 8.7pc on the year.

Exports hit fresh highs for three of four quarters, with only April-June deliveries weaker on the year.

Export growth was underpinned by a rise in deliveries to the UK, following a sharp fall in 2019. Shipments to the UK rose to 187,000t in 2020, up from 64,000t a year earlier.

Brazilian producer Tanac operates a 400,000 t/yr facility in the south of the country and began delivering under a contract with UK utility Drax in October 2017, although these exports have never reached the full contracted volume.

Italy, the world’s largest importer of residential-grade wood pellets, was the second-largest recipient of Brazilian cargoes in 2020. Fourth-quarter exports to Italy rose by 22.6pc on the year to 65,000t, while full-year 2020 exports grew by 11pc to 171,000t, as Brazil increased its premium wood pellet production capacity.

There were 13 operational EN plus pellet production facilities in Brazil at the end of 2020, up from 10 at the end of 2019. And Brazil widened its export portfolio, shipping pellets to 15 countries in 2020, compared with just eight in 2019.

Rio Grande was Brazil’s busiest wood pellet export port in 2020, with throughputs of 192,000t, against 68,000t in 2019. The majority of exports from Rio Grande were destined for the UK.

Throughputs at Brazil’s second-busiest pellet port, Sao Francisco do Sul, fell by 10.9pc to 114,000t.

Wood pellet handling at the port of Itajai in the state of Santa Catarina rose to 52,000t in 2020, up from just 9,000t in 2019.

The average fob Brazil wood pellet price fell by 5.3pc on the year to $154.86/t in 2020, and by 7.6pc on the year to $155.26 in the fourth quarter, as growth in industrial grade exports outpaced that of typically higher-priced EN plus material.

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