February 16, 2018

In This Week's Pellet Wire:

Tim Portz on the Way to Consumers' Hearts

As the Executive Director of the Pellet Fuels Institute, one of my responsibilities is to manage our association's image on various social media platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I also think about platforms where we don't currently have a presence that may hold some potential for us (Instagram comes to mind).

We've all got our opinions on social media, but I think most everyone is in agreement that it is here to stay and to ignore it is to ignore a huge platform where consumers, our consumers, are talking about things they enjoy and things they are passionate about. For me, to ignore this simple fact of life is foolish. The world's biggest brands are pouring money into social media, trying to better understand how to use the platform to move consumers to a desired outcome.

Observing social media platforms through the lens of our industry over the last month and a half has been extremely informative. The opportunity for PFI is massive, but the challenges are real and we've got some important conversations in front of us about how to make the most out of the enormous landscape that is social media.


During my recent visit to member producer Indeck Energy - Ladysmith , lunch was brats cooked on a wood pellet grill, naturally.

After six weeks of observation, I'm blown away by how much social media activity surrounds wood pellets as a BBQ fuel and how little content there is about wood pellets as a home heating fuel. In virtually every measurable attribute (tweets, number of followers, total impressions) social media content regarding cooking with pellets outstrips heating with wood pellets by a wide margin, often ten-fold. I think the reason is pretty straightforward to understand. 

First, cooking is a pastime and social media tends to deal in things people either love or hate. People love to cook, as evidenced by the innumerable cooking shows available on cable TV. Second, cooking is chock full of photo opportunities and space heating just isn't. I was speaking to our promotions committee yesterday and I asked them if they had ever taken a photograph of someone standing next to a heating appliance. I then asked if anyone had ever taken a photograph of someone standing in front of a grill. It is an interesting thought exercise and if social media is any indication the ratio is probably close to 1:100. 

These realizations have taken me down a number of thought paths and I'd invite you all to follow me down a few of them. Primarily, I think PFI needs to recognize that the use of wood pellets as a BBQ fuel has real consumer momentum right now and that momentum brings opportunity to all of us, regardless of whether or not we're actually manufacturing wood pellets for cooking. Consider this: the first thing most product marketers work to capture is consumer awareness of their product.

Consumers won't buy something they don't know exists. The bottom line is anytime a consumer becomes familiar with a wood pellet, what it is and where to get it, we win. The wood-pellet-as-a-BBQ-fuel content on social media does that for us and our job now is to figure out how to leverage that to grow the awareness of the OTHER uses of the incredible product we make.

If the quickest way to a consumers' hearts is through their stomachs, we need to be thoughtful about that, and not look upon the visibility of wood pellets as a BBQ fuel with envy, but instead with an eye on the incredible potential therein.

- TP

Three Weeks Until Breakfast & Biomass: Playing Some Offense-A Discussion about the Practical Means of Promoting the Pellet Option

** NOTE: We need photos of PFI members, along with their product and facilities, to feature at Breakfast & Biomass! Don't get left out-email your photos to Carrie Annand. ** 

In the coming year, the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) will embark upon a strategic initiative to take the message of the values and benefits of using wood pellets for home-heating to consumers. To appreciably grow the market opportunity for its members, the PFI recognizes that it must do more to promote pellet heating.

This year's Breakfast & Biomass panel will offer attendees an opportunity to hear the early thinking on the approaches and strategic partners the PFI must successfully deploy and engage to be successful. The panel will explore the PFI's plans to use social media, a revamped brand and online presence and increased engagement with our hearth and home customers, and the potential for all of those channels to make consumers more aware of wood pellet heat. Additionally, progress toward a check-off program for wood pellet producers will be discussed. 

Moderator: Stan Elliot, Chairman, Pellet Fuels Institute

  • Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute
  • Bruce Lisle, President & CEO, Energex Corporation
  • Adam Martin, Martin's Sales and Service

For those who have already registered for the HPBExpo, here are the instructions to update your registration and sign up for the PFI Breakfast and Biomass:

  1. Go through the "Already Registered for a Badge" link: (orange box on the right).  
  2. You will need to have the email and password you used when badge name(s) were registered. 
  3. Then go to Registration Tools/List of Attendees/Edit Education. 
  4. Sign up and pay for the PFI Breakfast schedule for Friday March 9th
  5. You can also call Rachel Pratt at HPBA at 703-522-0086 ext.114 or email [email protected], and she can add it to your registration.

Become a 2018 PFI Sponsor in February and Register for Breakfast & Biomass

Don't miss the opportunity to sponsor PFI in 2018! 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 2018, you will reap the benefits throughout the coming year.

The 2018 sponsorship packages include benefits such as:

  • PFI Annual Conference registrations
  • Breakfast & Biomass 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.

We Need Your Input for PFI's 2018 Events

Are there any topics that you'd like to see addressed at Breakfast & Biomass or at PFI's Annual Conference? We'd like to hear from you. Nominate speakers and suggest panels, experts, themes, and ideas. The Conference Committee wants to be sure to reflect the preferences and needs of PFI membership as much as possible. 

Be sure to check our updated online calendar with information on many events happening during 2018, and mark your calendars!

Breakfast & Biomass at the HPB Expo in Nashville, TN - March 8-10, 2018

PFI Annual Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC - June 24-26, 2018 

If our calendar is missing any events that you're planning to attend, please email Carrie Annand

Follow PFI on Twitter, Friend Us on Facebook, and Connect with Us on LinkedIn 

We'd like to connect and interact with PFI members and anyone else involved in pellet fuels production! 

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

  1. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook!
  2. Encourage your colleagues and other business associates to follow us.
  3. Send Carrie Annand news or other ideas to post on LinkedIn.

Do You Have News to Share on Pellet Wire?

We'd love to feature your company's news in a future Pellet Wire! We want to be the first to know your company's recent developments to share them with the wider pellet fuels industry.

Please be in touch with Carrie Annand with information on your company's growth, job openings, promotions, or other news. 

Join a PFI Committee

We welcome and encourage all interested PFI members to get involved in our committees. There are many opportunities to help steer the association. No matter where your expertise and interests lie, we have a committee that will suit you. Help us plan our next conference, shape our policy agenda, lead communications outreach, or grow the PFI Standards Program. Visit PFI's website for more information. 

Upcoming Industry Events

March 8, 2018: HPB Expo

March 9, 2018: 2018 PFI Breakfast & Biomass

March 20, 2018: International Mass Timber Conference

April 16, 2018: International Biomass Conference & Expo

May 1, 2018: Heating the Midwest

Connect with PFI

Join PFI

Fuel Availability

Are you a PFI member, pellet manufacturer, or distributor that has fuel available? Email [email protected] to have your listing updated or added to the PFI website.

Industry News

Consumers Can Save a Bundle by Switching to Wood Pellets 
NH Wood Energy Council in Biomass Magazine

The New Hampshire Wood Energy Council reveals modern wood heating with locally sourced wood pellet fuel is delivering significant heat cost advantages over conventional fossil heating fuels.

New data from NH Office of Strategic Initiatives Fuel Price Survey (Jan. 23, 2018) confirms wood pellets are 48 percent lower heat cost than #2 heating oil, and 121 percent lower heat cost than propane. This analysis considers energy content of fuel, moisture content of fuel, and average fuel utilization efficiency of modern boilers.

Read Full Article

Pruitt Commits to Creating Regulatory Certainty for Biomass 
Biomass Magazine

On Feb. 13, U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with members of the forest products industry and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu to discuss a range of environmental issues. Pruitt also provided Sununu with a letter announcing EPA's efforts to work towards a carbon-neutral policy for biomass and clarify federal procurement recommendations for responsibly managed forests.

"For years, the federal government rendered most U.S. forestry producers ineligible for federal procurement projects and created confusion around biomass carbon neutrality," Pruitt said. "Understanding the importance of the forest products industry to the State of New Hampshire, EPA is focused on clarifying regulations that were encumbering the industry."

Read Full Article

Traeger Grills Partners With Meat Church BBQ's Matt Pittman to Spread the Gospel of Wood-fired Cooking 
Traeger Grills

Traeger Grills, inventor of the original wood pellet grill, announced an exclusive partnership with Matt Pittman, decorated pitmaster and CEO and owner of Meat Church BBQ. Pittman will serve as a member of Traeger's BBQ team and co-develop a variety of new products for the company. The popular BBQ personality will also appear on behalf of Traeger at events nationwide, produce content across its media platforms and host his highly in-demand BBQ classes as part of Traeger Shop Class events.

"Matt is the embodiment of what it means to eat, sleep and breathe the Traeger lifestyle," said Traeger Grills CEO Jeremy Andrus. "He is one of the biggest personalities in BBQ, and he has rapidly built the loyal following to prove it. We couldn't be more excited for Matt to represent Traeger and share his infectious passion for wood-fired cooking with our worldwide community."

Read Full Article

Hospital, Prison Considering Changes to Wood-fueled Heating System to Save Money
Juneau Empire

Businesses and homes in Alaska are looking to find more efficient ways to heat their buildings, and multiple Juneau organizations have identified one possible solution: wood.

Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) Biomass Program Manager Devany Plentovich spoke at the Southeast Conference's Mid-Session Summit on Tuesday about the future of using biomass in Juneau. Biomass represents any organisms that can be burned or somehow used to create energy (wood and crops are popular forms).

Read Full Article

Pellet Fuels Institute

[email protected] | 206.209.5277 | www.pelletheat.org