India emerges as “biggest growth market” for US hardwood lumber in H1 2023: AHEC

US hardwood shipment to India rose 76% in volume in H1 2023 compared to H1 2022

According to the American Hardwood Export Council, India has emerged as the biggest growth market for US hardwood lumber in H1 2023, with the total shipped to the market rising by 76% in volume to 6,610m3 and by 47% in value to US$3.98m, as compared to H1 2022.

The statistics, which have been compiled from the latest data released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also revealed that US hardwood veneer exports to India fell by 35% in value to reach $534,000 during the same period.

Shipments to India during the first half of this year were dominated by white oak, ash, red oak, and maple, with the latter rising from a very small base in the previous year.

The biggest increases in value and volume were seen in ash (931% and 1,092% respectively), maple (809% and 1,155% respectively), walnut (248% and 268% respectively) and white oak (160% and 121% respectively).

This increase comes at a time when long-term forecasts for India’s economy by Goldman Sachs point to an optimal progress in innovation and technology, along with the country having a demographic to drive growth even further.

“According to Goldman Sachs, ‘innovation and increasing worker productivity are going to be important for the world’s fifth-biggest economy. In technical terms, that means greater output for each unit of labor and capital in India’s economy’,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC regional director, quoting from Goldman Sachs.

“This is encouraging particularly given that the wood processing industry in the country still remains relatively unorganised and cottage-based. That being said, we are seeing modernisation in the industry and a greater acceptance of imported species.

“At the same time, the availability of locally-sourced hardwoods is in decline, which bodes well for the future of American hardwoods in India.”

A report by Mordor Intelligence states that the India furniture market size in 2023 is estimated at $15.79bn and is expected to reach $26.85bn by 2028.

Mordor further points out that the Indian furniture market has changed, expanding beyond chairs and tables to include designed interiors. A growing middle-class, rising disposable income and the growing number of urban homes are all contributing to the expansion of demand for furniture.

Demand for furniture is also being driven by the tourism and hospitality industry and the corporate sector, with the increasing number of hotels and business offices further spurring demand for furniture in the country.

“While the overall volumes of US hardwoods being shipped to India remain small for now, they are definitely a clear indication of a genuine market shift towards American species,” Wiles further commented.

“The Rajasthan furniture and handicrafts sector is certainly a developing end-user sector for American hardwoods, with an increasing number of manufacturers who are currently or have recently started working with American hardwoods.

In addition, there are manufacturers of high-end furniture and joinery for the domestic market dotted all over India and this is where we are likely to real and long-term growth in the coming years.”