The Tyrolean Pfeifer Group is one of the most successful players on the booming Italian pellet market. With an investment of five million Euros for the Kundl site, the Austrian timber industry company has determined the course for a further expansion in the Southern-European EU neighbour countries. Also at national level the demand continues to be high.
In 2016, Pfeifer Pellets – produced in the Tyrolean Unterland in Kundl and in Imst – have been elected by a leading Italian consumer test magazine as the best pellets in Italy. This prominent honouring came to the Tyrolean company at the right moment. In fact: Italy has gone down well with biofuels. Only in the year 2000, pellets were found to be an heating alternative in the Southern neighbour country by a wide audience. The sales curve since then has gone upwards. Around three millions tonnes of pellets are burned by Italians every year. The growth rates are in the double-digit range, pellets are considered as a convenient alternative to oil. And as CO₂-neutral heating material, they are also eco-friendly well-known by environment conscious consumers. Already for 2020, experts estimate the yearly need of Italy at five millions tonnes.
The Tyrolean Pfeifer Group is the largest producer of wood pellets in Austria and one of the successful local exporters to Italy. In 2016, Pfeifer sold 75.000 tonnes of wood pellets there. In comparison: All over Tirol, every year a total of 110.000 tonnes are consumed. The Tyrolean pellets, packaged in 15 kilos sacks, go southern of the Brenner up to Sicily. An average Italian family with pellet ovens burns around 1.5 tonnes per year, one with pellet heating boilers five to six tonnes of loose goods. Pfeifer pellets heat every year dozen of thousands houses and restaurants. In fact: Very popular has become the heating material also in the Italian gastronomy businesses. Instead of centralized heating systems, here are used finely designed ovens in restaurants. One of the largest sale regions of Italy is South Tirol, where many hotels rely on the Austrian quality product.
Pfeifer produces the Italian export goods since 1998 in its factory in Kundl, the largest pellets factory of Central Europe. In the past five years, Pfeifer has invested ten millions Euros there in order to react to the strongly increased demand on the Italian market. In the end, in May 2017, a new belt drying system was put into operation to dry sawdust. Costs: 100 million Euros “Thanks to this investment, we were able to increase the yearly production quantity in Kundl from 120.000 to the actual 150.000 tonnes wood pellets. This way we reacted to the high request on the Italian market”, as explained by Michael Pfeifer, CEO of the Pfeifer Group.
The Pfeifer Group employees at the moment 200 people in its factory. Thanks to the increased demand, the number of employees will rise by 20 new people. In the high-performance saw mill at the Kundl site, Pfeifer cuts about 800,000 cubic meters of timber per year. In a closed added value chain, the company processes the resulting sawdust by making the successful product pellets out of it. The remaining bark is turned into heating and energy in two biomass power plants equipped with filter systems. Part of this energy is used to dry sawn timber. Furthermore, Pfeifer feeds further 55 million Kwh of bio power in the public supply network. This quantity corresponds to the consumption of about 12,000 families. “We process exclusively timber from sustainably cultivated forests. Through a closed recycling circuit and the replacement of fossil fuels, we make an active contribution to CO₂ neutrality”, explains Michael Pfeifer.
The Pfeifer plant in Kundl produces, beside pellets also an internationally requested timber product: Sawn timber from the Tyrolean Underland is supplied even up to North Africa and is used in 30 countries all over the world. In total, Pfeifer produces 530,000 m³ of sawn & profiled timber at the Kundl site. A substantial part of this quantity is further processed by Pfeifer at the company headquarters in Imst into glue-laminated timber, solid wood panels, concrete shuttering panels and formwork beams.