USD 4.59 million of American hardwood lumber and veneer were exported to India during the first eight months of this year, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry. The statistics, which have been compiled from the latest data released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), were announced on the sidelines of MumbaiWood, which opened yesterday and is due to run until October 19 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre. Confident of more growth in India, AHEC is participating at the show with a record 20 U.S.-based hardwood and veneer exporters, who are all looking to sell into India.
According to the latest statistics, U.S. hardwood lumber shipped to India from January to August of this year increased by 196 per cent in volume to 2,842 cubic meters and by 96 per cent in value to USD 1.65 million. Close to a third of the volume shipped during this period was accounted for by red oak, which was not shipped to India at all in 2018.
Significant increases were also seen in the volume and value of exports of American walnut (88 per cent and 117 per cent), white oak (14 per cent and 44 per cent), hickory (131 per cent and 42 percent) and maple (39 percent and 32 percent). In addition, the total value of U.S. hardwood veneers exported to India for the same time period was USD 2.94 million – up by 19 per cent in comparison to 2018.
“While traditionally a tropical hardwood market, log export restrictions in Gabon, Myanmar, Malaysia, and other tropical countries have forced Indian manufacturers to look for alternate wood supply sources. In the past, a favourable tariff structure has supported log imports, but the poor/inadequate level of processing by domestic sawmills has prompted the Indian trade to import higher volumes of lumber in recent years,” said Roderick Wiles,
AHEC Regional Director. “The commitment shown by our members to participate at MumbaiWood and in our seminars with the Bombay Timber Merchants Association (BTMA) and with the Federation of Rajasthan Handicraft Exporters (FORHEX) is testament to their genuine interest and desire to do business in India.”
While exports of U.S. hardwood lumber products continue to increase into India, there is still a general lack of awareness and education in the Indian market, and the various consumption hubs limit exports. A particular reason for the smaller market share of U.S. hardwoods is the general lack of knowledge in India (grades, sizes, end-use and application) of the American species. As a result, the highly price-sensitive Indian importers and manufacturers are very quick to switch to alternate species from other countries, as they do not understand the differences in quality. AHEC’s return to MumbaiWood offers it a strategic platform from which to interact with timber importers, traders, furniture manufacturers, wood processing companies, as well as architects and interior designers.
“Our participation at MumbaiWood allows us the opportunity to share knowledge on the wide array of American hardwood species and their significant potential for a range of applications. The seminar last night with BTMA gave us direct access to members of the timber trade and enabled our members to better understand their needs. Following on from MumbaiWood, we head to Jaipur where we are hosting a mini-convention in partnership with FORHEX. This follows a similar initiative undertaken earlier this year in Jodhpur and will include factory tours, a networking event and mini-convention from October 21 – 22, 2019.
With all of this increased interest and activity, we are positive of a bigger market share and presence for American hardwoods in India,” concluded Wiles.