AHEC: Demand for American red oak at an all-time high in India

Demand for American red oak in India is at all-time high, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). It is this increased demand for red oak lumber that has pushed total exports of American hardwood lumber and veneer to India to a value of USD 5.272 million in the first three quarters of 2019. A closer look at the numbers reveals that total exports of U.S. hardwood lumber to India reached a value of USD 1.822 million and a volume of 3,179 cubic metres during the first three quarters of 2019, with red oak lumber accounting for nearly a quarter of all exports to India.

U.S. hardwood lumber and veneer exports to Indian increase substantially

The statistics, which have been compiled from the latest data released from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), show that U.S. hardwood lumber exports increased by 84 per cent in value over the January to September period of 2018 and by 153 per cent in volume for the same time period. In addition, direct exports of U.S. hardwood veneers to India reached a total value of USD 3.45 million during the January to September period of this year, rising by 19 percent in comparison to the same period in 2018. While traditionally a log-focused market, a combination of market forces and legislation has seen India’s appetite for logs decline. As such, India’s imports of U.S. hardwood logs for the first nine months of this year decreased by 50 percent and 25 in volume and value respectively.

“There has never been a better time to buy American red oak. That’s partly because it’s in plentiful supply, and partly because it’s eminently affordable, with the price differential versus European oak as wide as it’s ever been,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.

“The fact that it is America’s most prolific hardwood, with two cubic metres growing in the forest every second, and total growth exceeding harvest by 21 million m3 each year, ensures consistent availability throughout the year. Looking ahead, our aim is to help buyers in India discover the untapped potential of red oak and other U.S. hardwoods, with the emphasis that there’s never been a better time to do it.”

Top 3 species exported: Hickory, Red Oak and Walnut 

Overall, the species mix exported to India in the first three quarters of this year broadened with hickory (USD 573,803), red oak (USD 429,552), walnut (USD 252,476), ash (USD 178,288), white oak (USD 158,421) and maple (USD 112,058) emerging as the top six species exported. Significant increases were seen in the volume and value of exports of almost all species – hickory (156 percent and 59 percent), red oak (1,307 percent and 1,285 percent), walnut (163 percent and 117 percent) and maple (115 percent and 114 percent). India still has a very long way to go before it fulfils its potential as a world-leading consumer of American hardwoods, however the signs are promising, and the numbers now serve as proof that the market is moving in the right direction.

“Following our successful participation at DelhiWood and MumbaiWood this year, and in line with our desire to increase the presence of American hardwoods in the Indian market, we plan to ramp up our strategy in India through our participation at INDIAWOOD 2020 and subsequently with education aimed at all elements of the ‘timber chain’, whether it is specifiers (architects and interior designers), end users (furniture and joinery manufacturers) or importers and distributors. The commitment shown by our members to travel to India and participate in these trade shows and seminars organised in Jodhpur, Mumbai and Jaipur throughout 2019 is further proof of the level of interest to do more in India, and we remain confident of more and sustained growth to come,” concluded Wiles.

(Image: L28 Culinary Platform, image credit: AHEC)