AHEC’s American red oak campaign at VIFA

Regional director of AHEC, John Chan (R), with Rita Mak (L). Image credit: Turnstone, Singapore

Opening with a spectacular cultural show in the presence of Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Ha Cong Tuan, the successful annual VIFA in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, saw the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) launch its new promotion of American red oak.

With Vietnam exporting nearly US$8 billion worth of furniture and wood products in 2017 and expected to achieve US$10 billion within two years, the country is the second largest importer of American hardwood lumber outside of North America, and is projected to grow strongly.

Key driver include improved design, technical investment and innovation, and with the government firmly behind the industry which is now ranks sixth in national exports, furniture has become the number five consumer commodity in terms of domestic consumption.

At the show, AHEC featured red oak with its sponsorship of the annual Hoa Mai furniture design competition and a prominent booth at the entrance to the show. Regional director John Chan officiated at the opening ceremony and several AHEC and NHLA members exhibited independently. And by supplying red oak lumber to the Hoa Mai and its display stand lined with red oak, adverts for red oak in the media and meetings to promote the species, AHEC has put the furniture industry on notice that there is a very sustainable high quality material choice for the production of quality furniture.

In terms of trends, white oak is still the dominant high value species in Vietnam, but tulipwood (yellow poplar) has been making gains with imports into Vietnam up 27 per cent in value in 2017. Much of the wood furniture at the show was either wholly or partially painted in cream, white or a recent favourite – grey.   

A number of hardwood exporters and distributors of North American hardwoods participated, including Gutchess International, Thomson Hardwoods, Midwest Hardwoods and Paledau. The next trade show in Vietnam to feature AHEC and NHLA will be the VIFAWoodmac wood machinery and materials exhibition in Binh Duong, Vietnam, in late October.