February 15, 2019 

In This Week's Pellet Wire:

From the Director’s Desk—Looking Ahead to Breakfast & Biomass

One month from today we will be hosting our annual pellet-centric breakfast discussion at the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo, Breakfast & Biomass. At last year’s Breakfast & Biomass I made my first public remarks as the Executive Director of the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) and shared the rough draft of a new era of focus for the PFI, one that fixed the organization’s sights on market growth through increased appliance sales. Early in 2018, we dubbed this new focus Operation 100k, a rallying cry for our organization and our producer and partner members to do what we could to restore annual pellet appliance sales number to 100,000 units. Next month’s Breakfast & Biomass program offers the opportunity for the organization, its members and its partners in the category to assess our progress.

In particular, I’m looking forward to three discussions:

  1. My NSPS discussion with John Shimek at Heart & Home Technologies and Ryan Carroll from the HPBA. While the PFI has focused its efforts within the NSPS on the removal of the minimum pellet fuel requirements, there are other aspects of the rule that greatly impact our partners in the hearth industry. In the past year, John Shimek and Ryan Carroll have both been invaluable to me in helping me understand how sell-through provisions and the decisions made about those provisions will impact appliance manufacturers and hearth retailers. I’ve deliberately invited them to join me so that our audience can make some of the same discoveries I’ve made over the course of the year. It seems unlikely now that any kind of decision will be made regarding not only the minimum pellet fuel standards but also the sell-through provisions, but I’d argue these two are as likely as anyone in the space to have a bead on where all of this might shake out.
  2. I’m looking forward to sharing what we learned during our social media beta test. Beginning last week we began our post-test interviews with participating retailers and we’ll be gathering more information in the lead up to Breakfast & Biomass. While we know the number of individual impressions we made (nearly 3 million) what we’re hungry to hear is if our retailer partners felt like they had more people in their stores asking about and ultimately making a pellet appliance purchase. Our early conversations have revealed that social media, like other advertising platforms, struggles to produce the “smoking gun” results of yielding a sale that wouldn’t have occurred in the absence of the program. We’ve already learned that some retailers are backing out of advertising platforms that don’t at least offer them the kind of measurable metrics that social media platforms offer. While retailers aren’t convinced in the efficacy of social media, they certainly are intrigued by the visibility it provides them regarding the money they have invested.
  3. All Things Barbecue. We know we’ve just scratched the surface on the opportunity in front of our industry with regard to the barbecue category. (If you haven’t read the article Pellet Power in the February issue of Hearth & Home I urge you to do so) The article includes some insights from Jeff Thiessen from Dansons who will join our discussion and I look forward to hearing from him the year they’ve had as well as the innovation surrounding that exciting market. The Hearth & Home article makes it clear that consumers remain hungry for wood pellet cooking and I’m looking forward to asking Jeff more about that.

If you’re going to be in Dallas next month we’d love to have you join us on Friday morning. We get started early and run a compact, but content-rich program. I hope you’ll join us. Visit the PFI website for details on how to register. 

—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
  • Company logo listed on the PFI website
  • 10x10 booth at the PFI Annual Conference
  • 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—Energex
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 Kenny Lisle with Energex.

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Here's how you can help us build our online community:

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Please be in touch with Carrie Annand via email at [email protected] with information on your company's growth, job openings, promotions, or other news. 

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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

Surveying the Global Wood Pellet Landscape 
Biomass Magazine

There has been a consolidation trend in the U.S. the past couple years. Has that leveled off, or will it continue to some extent?

SW: I think we will continue to see some more consolidation. The low-hanging fruit, so to speak, has already been picked, but in my opinion, we are still more likely to see merger and acquisition (M&A) activity than we are new greenfield mills.

WS: Recent years in the heating pellet sector were challenging due to a combination of excess supply, warm winters, and low fossil fuel prices. Profit margins for small, independent pellet mills were very tight, or even negative. Some mills failed financially and closed, and others were made available for acquisition. In the past year or so, demand for heating pellets has increased and the gap between supply and demand has almost closed. Normal to colder-than-normal winter weather has allowed operating mills to run at full capacity in many locations. I would expect to see M&A continue, but also we may see a few new projects in some regions.

Read Full Article

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper Expresses Concern over Wood Pellet Emissions 
Energy News Network

First, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper told a congressional committee there were concerns about the growth of wood pellet manufacturing in his state, a top producer of the controversial capsules burned in European power plants instead of coal.

The following day, his environmental agency released a greenhouse gas inventory that takes initial steps to quantify those concerns.

The week’s moves are far from the full-throated rebuke of the large-scale biomass industry that environmental advocates have long sought. But they’re the first faint signs that Cooper and his administration are reacting to pressure from critics who say massive wood pellet production is exacerbating the climate crisis.

Read Full Article

Stove Users in the Ozarks Scramble to Find Pellets 

Read Full Article


Pellet Fuels Institute

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