The global wood charcoal market remained static over the last three years

In 2016, the global wood charcoal market stood at 51.1M tonnes. From 2007 to 2013, the global wood charcoal market remained relatively stable, despite being subject to a slight decline in 2009 and seeing a minor acceleration over the period from 2012-2013; overall, it increased from 46.9M tonnes in 2007 to 50.9 million tonnes in 2013. Then, however, the growth lost its momentum, and the market leveled off, with only minor fluctuations throughout 2016.

In wholesale prices, the global wood charcoal market reached $22.7B in 2016. This figure reflects the total revenue of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price).

In 2016, Brazil (5,501K tonnes), Ethiopia (4,317K tonnes) and Nigeria (4,250K tonnes) were the leading consuming markets. In addition, these countries were also the leading producers of wood charcoal. These three leading countries together accounted for 27% of global consumption and 28% of global production.

The global wood charcoal market is set to see a period of mild growth

Wood charcoal is one of the most accessible fuels for people with a low income in many of the African and South-Eastern Asian countries. For this reason, wood charcoal is expected to experience maximum demand in these regions, compared with other energy sources, against a rising population, low income levels and their slow rate of growth. Therefore, the market will continue to experience measured growth until 2025, with a CAGR of +1.0%, or 55.8M tonnes by the end of the forecast period.

The majority of the world's wood charcoal production is concentrated in Africa

Wood charcoal production indicated a measured growth over the last few years. From 2007 to 2016, global wood charcoal production expanded to 50.9M tonnes. In value terms, it reached $22.6B USD in 2016.

In physical terms, Africa was the leading charcoal producing region, consisting of approx. 63% of global wood charcoal output in 2016. Nigeria (9%), Ethiopia (8%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (5%), Ghana (4%), Tanzania (4%) and Madagascar (3%) constituted the major producing countries in the African region.

Outside Africa, in absolute terms, Brazil remains a key producer country in global terms, with an 11% share. India (6%) ranked fourth, with China (3%) and Thailand (3%) lagging somewhat behind. While the production levels of wood charcoal decreased in Brazil, production in the other leading wood charcoal producing countries has been steadily growing.

Developing countries remain independent of imports

The low trade intensity is determined mainly by the fact that charcoal use and consumption is practised mostly in the developing nations, which also constitute the major producing countries. In these countries, charcoal is of vital importance as a source of primary energy for households, as well as being used for some industrial applications. Therefore, the share of imports in terms of global consumption remained below 5% from the beginning of the period under review; its substantial growth is not projected in the medium term.

Indonesia remained the major wood charcoal exporter

In 2016, the volume of global exports totaled 2.3M tonnes, contracting slightly after a period of consistent growth from 2010 to 2015. Overall, exports grew with an annual average growth rate of +3.2% per year over the period under review.

Indonesia (16%), Nigeria (9%), Poland (7%), Ukraine (7%), Myanmar (5%), Cuba (5%) and Namibia (4%) were the main global suppliers of wood charcoal, together comprising a combined share of 48% of global exports. From 2007 to 2016, Cuba (+30.6% per year), Ukraine (+12.4%), Poland (+10.8%), Nigeria (+8.8%) were the fastest growing suppliers among the major exporters, while Indonesia, Namibia and Myanmar experienced more modest paces of growth. Indonesia, Ukraine, Cuba (+4 percentage points, each), Nigeria and Poland (+3 percentage pints, each) slightly increased their positions in global export structure, while the shares of the other countries remained relatively stable over the last nine years.

Germany constitutes a major importer of wood charcoal, assuming an 8% share of global imports.

The volume of global imports totaled 2.5M tonnes in 2016. The imports trend pattern generally mirrored that of exports: these trade flows globally complement each other.

In 2016, Germany (8%), China (6%), Japan (6%), Poland (6%), Korea (5%), Saudi Arabia (5%), and the U.A.E. (5%) constituted the leading destinations for wood charcoal imports; all these countries together accounted for 59% of global imports. Amongst the major importing countries Poland (+15.6% per year) and the U.A.E. (+12.9% per year) gained the highest annual rates of growth from 2007 to 2016. While the share of Poland (+4 percentage points), China (+2 percentage points), Saudi Arabia (+2 percentage points) and the U.A.E. (+2 percentage points) increased slightly from 2007 to 2016, the share of Japan (-2 percentage points) illustrated a slight contraction. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.