Hardwood Imports increased significantly in India | SR Material Update

American hardwoods

Fulfilling its potential, which was disturbed last year due to the ongoing pandemic, as a market for American hardwoods, India is back in the game. With a rapid recovery in the economy, India is back on track with total exports of American hardwood lumber and veneer in the country for the first quarter of 2021 with USD 2.308 million, up by 62 per cent, as per the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) latest data, American hardwood lumber exports for Q1 2021 increased by 214 per cent to reach USD 1.159 million while American hardwood veneer exports increased by 9 per cent to reach USD 1.149 million.

Rising demand of wood

The leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry AHEC suggests that demand for American hardwoods in India is expected to return to the record levels seen in 2019 this year. It further adds that the first quarter compiled statistics suggest a step in the right direction. The exports of American hardwood lumber and veneer were up year-on-year in spite of lumber shortage universally, uncertainty in freight rates and availability of containers, and inflation. During the period, the American hardwood exports to India leaped up to 678 cubic meters, marking a 71 per cent decrease in comparison to the same period last year.  Analytically, this is a shift seen in the past couple of years by Indian buyers in direction of importing value-added kiln-dried lumber, as opposed to logs.

As per a report published on American Hardwood Expert Council, Roderick Wiles, Regional Director, AHEC states that while overall imports of US hardwood lumber and veneers decreased in 2020, they were still significantly higher than in 2018. Although India, like the markets globally, had been impacted by the pandemic in the first half of 2020, the country showed a remarkable turnaround with two thirds of the total volume exported to India in 2020 taking place during the second half of the year. Continuing this in the following year as well, the first quarter statistics looks for the rest of the year, according to Wiles.

Wooden Building Design

The report further adds the numbers of the first quarter suggesting total hardwood lumber shipped from the United States to India increased by 214 per cent in value to USD 1.159 million (up from USD 370,000) and by 196 per cent in volume to 1,887 cubic meters (up from 638 cubic meters). It also listed the top five American hardwood species exported including hickory (USD 335,000 and 522m3), red alder (USD 252,000 and 452m3), white oak (USD 199,000 and 344m3), ash (USD 200,000 and 280m3), and red oak (USD 156,000 and 243m3). Considerable rise were seen in value and volumes of export across all species, thereby confirming that 2020 was a temporary plunge.

For the love of wood

Universal and unique, wood is one of the rarest building materials which is accepted universally on account of its authenticity and distinct feature. Its colour, texture, properties and durability has mesmerized many designers and architects. Wood not only brings out the Biophilic element of the design but also adds a touch of simplicity with its sustainable asset. Commenting on one of the greatest materials available on Earth, Alex de Rijke, DRMM Architects, who is an advocate of timber architecture, believes, “This century is going to the be the century of wood. It is the time for timber.” De Rijke’s Hastings Pier is a testimony of his profound love for timber that won the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize, the UK’s top architecture award. (Picture courtesy: DRMM Architects)

Even in Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s work from the Kumo-no Ue-no Hotel, Yusuhara Town Hall, Machi-no-Eki Yusuhara to Wooden Bridge Museum, wood plays a crucial role. For Kuma, “Our animal selves only really react to actual materials. Our bodies don't twitch at a drawing, so it's important to start a dialogue with mock-ups as soon as possible. Only after physically engaging with materials, should we begin drawing floor plans, elevations and site diagrams. But a floor plan for a wooden building is bound to be different to one in stone. How could it not? Doing things the way around floor plan first, then a cosmetic touch-up hardly gives materials due credit.”

Wooden Building Design

With a commitment towards the environment, Shigeru Ban eventually fell in love with wood. According to Ban, “I'm not inventing anything new. I'm just using existing material differently.” And this aptly fits one of his creations, the Aspen Art Museum. The structure of the museum invites those outside to engage with its interiors, while providing an outward look of the surrounding to those inside. (Picture courtesy: American Institute of Architects)

An observant of nature, Frei Otto has been one of the architects in determining the development of wooden architecture. One of his stunning works includes the roof construction for Multihalle, Mannheim. Ideated as a timber grid shell roof, its structure comprises of a filigree lattice structure that spans various spaces.

Bright future for the supply and demand

Further quoting Wiles – who believes that though it is challenging, the supply-demand balance will be restored soon – 2021 did start very well for exports of American hardwoods to India but the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic is a major cause for concern and its effect on India’s economic recovery, not to mention its people, is yet to be fully seen. The global demand for American hardwood has rushed and the supply is yet to catch up, resulting in tighter than usual availability of certain species.



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