Last year was a record year for U.S. hardwood exports to India with the value of hardwood lumber and veneer exports totaling USD 6.448 million, 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 yesterday (February 27, 2020) at the opening of INDIAWOOD, which is due to run until March 2 at the Bangalore International Exhibition Center.
With India making positive progress towards fulfilling its potential as a major market for U.S. hardwoods, AHEC is participating at INDIAWOOD with an American hardwood pavilion, which includes several U.S.-based hardwood and veneer exporters. AHEC also hosted a seminar last night at the Sheraton Grand Bangalore in partnership with NürnbergMesse India, the organizers of INDIAWOOD. The seminar focused on all aspects of the American hardwood resource, sustainable forest management, production, kiln-drying and the wide range of species available, in addition to new technologies that allow American hardwoods to now be used in exterior and structural applications.
A closer look at the numbers for 2019 reveal that total hardwood lumber shipped from the United States to India increased by 72 percent in value to USD 2.356 million (up from USD 1.369 million in 2018) and by 140 percent in volume to 4,082 cubic meters (up from 1,698 cubic meters in 2018). At the same time, direct exports of American hardwood veneers to the market increased by 4 percent to reach USD 4.092 million. According to AHEC, limited domestic hardwood supplies, coupled with strong sustained growth in the retail furniture, handicraft and hospitality sectors is driving demand for new species, making India an attractive long-term prospective market for U.S. hardwoods.
The top six American hardwood species exported last year were hickory (USD 727,000 and 1,229m3), red oak (USD 466,000 and 920m3), walnut (USD 329,000 and 282m3), white oak (USD 262,000 and 358m3), ash (USD 242,000 and 356m3) and maple (USD 140,000 and 240m3). Significant increases were seen in the value and volume of exports of all species – hickory (50 percent and 128 percent), red oak (910 percent and 1,111 percent), walnut (45 percent and 45 percent), white oak (47 percent and 26 percent), ash (813 percent and 1,234 percent) and maple (113 percent and 128 percent).
A sector with tremendous potential is the Indian wooden handicrafts and furniture manufacturing industry. Increasing certification requirements, and both the restricted and deteriorating quality of supply of domestic species is driving Indian manufacturers to look at viable alternative hardwood species not only for the domestic furniture and interiors market, but also for re-exports of value-added products. Given that Indian exporters of wooden handicrafts and other wood products are facing stricter norms in the European Union, the United States and Australia, the U.S. hardwood industry is well placed to service this demand as American hardwoods are both legal and sustainable, and do not need to be certified in order to enter in to these markets.
“AHEC has been actively promoting American hardwoods in India since 2003 targeting specifiers (architects and interior designers), end users (furniture and joinery manufacturers) as well as importers and distributors. Our participation at INDIAWOOD is the first in a line of many activities planned for 2020 aimed at building on the current knowledge of American hardwoods in India. Looking ahead, the plan is to host lumber grading workshops and design and manufacturing seminars in a number of metropolitan areas around India, while also maintaining a constant on-the-ground presence and technical assistance through our representative based in Bangalore. The American hardwood industry is committed to servicing growing Indian demand for hardwoods,” concluded Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.