Indian demand for American hardwoods expected to grow significantly
AHEC returns to INDIAWOOD 2018 with eight U.S.-based hardwood and veneer exporters
February 13, 2018 - India, as a market for American hardwoods, is expected to fulfill its potential over the course of the next few years, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry. Aiming to leverage the growing demand in India and the need for alternative hardwood species, AHEC has announced its participation at the tenth edition of INDIAWOOD, which will be held at the Bangalore International Exhibition Center from March 8 - 12, 2018. Testament to its renewed confidence in the Indian market, AHEC is returning to the show with eight U.S.-based hardwood and veneer exporters, who are all keen to do business in the country.
To date, the much-publicized potential offered by India for American hardwoods has not been realized. It has proven to be a tough market for U.S. hardwood exporters in which to gain business for a multitude of well-documented reasons and the actual volumes of US hardwood products shipped have been small relative to market potential. However, Indian imports of hardwood lumber have risen considerably during the past two years, as the market has shifted away from its preference for logs and as positive developments have taken place in the wood manufacturing sector. There have also been a few recently- documented cases of furniture and joinery manufacturers buying kiln-dried U.S. hardwood lumber for the first time. More importantly, they have been pleased with the lumber received and very happy with the products that they have made.
“In particular, a species which seems to have found favour with manufacturers in India, is American tulipwood. Both its versatility and competitive pricing are well-suited to the
market’s needs. With price being one of the key deciding factors in selecting wood species, while color variation, grade, character and density are less important, AHEC has been instrumental in proposing No. 1 & No. 2 Common tulipwood as a viable alternative to local species for furniture and handicrafts manufacturing,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director. “It would seem that almost any American hardwood species may find a place in the Indian market, provided that it is both competitive in price and readily available in significant and consistent volumes. This specification is well-matched to tulipwood, but a number of other species in the lower grades may also be suitable.”
The large-scale Indian wooden furniture and handicrafts sector is currently facing a raw material crisis, owing to the CITES listing of one of its key local hardwood species - sheesham (Dalbergia sissoo) - in January 2017. Sheesham, along with locally-sourced mango and acacia are used in massive volumes in the production of rustic-style furniture, kitchenware and handicrafts, which are primarily aimed at export markets such as the United States and Europe. In addition to the CITES listing of sheesham, access to both mango and acacia is also becoming more restricted and lumber prices are reported to be rising, while the quality of material is deteriorating.
“There is a general agreement amongst the manufacturers that tulipwood could be a viable alternative to locally-sourced hardwood species, but there is also a consensus that trials would need to be made, both in order to test the workability of the material and to assess whether the finished items would be suitable to existing buyers in the United States and elsewhere. These trials are now on-going with around forty manufacturers, following the donation of a full container of tulipwood towards the end of last year for such purposes,” added Wiles. “Given that the process of shipping U.S. hardwood lumber to India has become easier, there is now even greater interest in buying KD (kiln-dried) American hardwood lumber from a growing number of manufacturers. A number of companies have imported and worked successfully with KD American hardwood lumber during the last twelve months or so and anecdotal evidence suggests that more will follow.”
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is the leading international trade association for the U.S. hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among U.S. hardwood companies and all the major U.S. hardwood production trade associations. AHEC runs a worldwide programme to promote American hardwoods in over 50 export markets, concentrating on providing architects, specifiers, designers and end-users with
technical information on the range of species, products and sources of supply. In addition, AHEC also produces a full range of technical publications. For more information, please visit: www.americanhardwood.org.