Hickory, red oak and white oak drive growth of US hardwood lumber exports to India in 2024

Total value of American hardwood lumber and veneer exported to India reached US$2.87m in Q1 2024, according to international trade association American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC).

Roderick Wiles, regional director, AHEC

Total hardwood lumber shipped from the US to India declined by 18%, down from $2.89m to $2.37m, and dropped by 28% in volume, from 5,035m3 to 3,628m3. This downturn was due to a decline in India’s imports of two species — ash and maple — according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The top three exports to India were oak at $692,000 and 1,059m3; hickory at $611,000 and 703m3; and red oak at $557,000 and 889m3. Exports of walnut also rose, with an increase in value and volume of shipments both by 197% and 304% to reach $202,000 and 230m3 respectively.

Exports of the oaks, hickory and walnut to India during the period increased

US hardwood veneer exports were valued at $497,000. In addition, $1.39m worth of American hardwood logs were imported into the country during the same time period.

According to Trade Data Monitor, India imported some $192m worth of hardwood lumber in 2023. This was accounted for by plantation teak, coming from many supplying countries like South East Asia, Africa and Latin America.

For temperate hardwoods, the biggest supplier was EU, which shipped around $24m to India. Most of this was accounted for by France and Germany with their live sawn oak, beech, ash and European maple. The UK’s sizeable exports of hardwood lumber to India are said to be entirely accounted for by willow for cricket bats.

The biggest supplier was EU for temperate hardwoods

The US accounted for about 5% of the total market last year in value, an increase from three years ago which reportedly shows India’s growing appetite for American hardwoods. AHEC regional director Roderick Wiles said that it is positive to see the demand for American oak increasing in India.

The long-term trend is for India’s imports of hardwood lumber to continue to grow over the coming years, while log imports will continue to decline. Limited domestic hardwood supplies, coupled with strong sustained growth, makes India an attractive and long-term prospective market for US hardwoods, according to AHEC.

“Combined, the oaks are the dominant species in the US hardwood forests with their distinctive grain pattern and are suitable for furniture, flooring, doors, architectural joinery, mouldings and kitchen cabinets,” Wiles added. “Despite the lack of well-established distribution channels and with few importers keeping stock on the ground as yet, it is promising to see India embrace the widely available American hardwood species.”

Images: AHEC