American wood dominant at Sylvawood Shanghai 2016

WWW or ‘Where the World of Wood meets’ was an apt pre-show promotion for this highly focused exhibition which was launched as ‘Asia’s only specialised wood materials, wood products trade show’. Both sentiments were delivered in a well-attended event offering variety and choice, so long it was wood.

Sylvawood is as international as any wood show, albeit with an emphasis on North America, which is not surprising given that the USA is the largest exporter of hardwoods in the world and China the largest importer. Organised by Shanghai Pablo Exhibition Co and the Shanghai Timber Trade Association, Sylvawood 2016 in June was endorsed by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), American Softwoods, Softwood Export Council, Canada Wood and APA – The Engineered Wood Association - alongside French Timber. Sixty percent of exhibitors were from overseas, including Germany, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, South America, Africa, Malaysia in Southeast Asia and USA. 

Speaking at the opening ceremony to welcome VIPs, organiser Mr William Pang committed to continue “this unique platform for trade, networking, and the exchange of ideas with global suppliers and visitors to build and grow the market in China.” The event also offered three daily hardwood grading demonstrations from the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) and a full programme of seminars, including ‘Meet the Experts’ on market drivers, wood technology and wood supply. Award ceremonies were held for two different Chinese organisations and the show featured a number of structures in different wood materials.

“It was so good to have a wood focused show in China” said Charles Barnes, Director International Marketing at APA, a sentiment exactly echoed by Mr Deane Alanko, Allegheny Wood Products and former Chairman of AHEC. Michael Snow, Executive Director of AHEC, stated that members were well satisfied with the show and Regional Director John Chan said ”I am sure we will be back next year.”  The American hardwood pavilion comprised 28 member companies all set on exporting to China which is now the largest single market for American hardwood lumber. AHEC, APA and American Softwoods all fielded full teams of staff to welcome visitors. Distribution companies such as APP Timber, operating internationally, and many local timber traders offered a wide range of wood materials. There were many outstanding exhibits including those from the Malaysian Timber Council, with a comprehensive range of tropical wood products, distributor AM Forest Products prominent at the entrance as well as Bergkvist-Insjön AB from Sweden and the American Softwood displays. Visitors were almost entirely local and many had been encouraged by the organisers to attend by a ‘WeChat’ campaign that provided a lunch on the opening day to those that responded. The NHLA tour group, currently visiting China, attended along with representatives of associations such as the Thai Timber Association (TTA) the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) and the Ho Chi Minh City furniture association (HAWA). 

Adding an additional attraction to visitors on opening day was a full programme of seminars, moderated by Michael Buckley from Singapore, starting with ‘Market Drivers in China’.  Michael Snow presented ‘China’s Wood Consumption’ and demonstrated the dramatic growth in China’s demand and the switch of its woodworking industry from processor and re-exporter to domestic consumer.  Ernie Koh, President of the SFIC, discussed ‘What Drives the Furniture Industry in China’ and suggested that the growth trend in consumption is set to continue, despite the reports of economic slowdown in China. Then a panel of speakers provided insights into the ‘Global Timber Supply’ (Malte Herrmann, APP Timber), ‘Rubberwood Supply’ (Jirawat Tangkijngamwong, TTA), ‘North American Hardwood Supply’ (Judd Johnson, Hardwood Market Report) and ‘North American Softwood Supply’ (Frank Stewart, Western Wood Products Assn). Technical presentations were made by Giulio Masotti of Wood Skin, on robotic and digital fabrication in wood; and Neil Summers presented ‘New Opportunities for American Hardwood’ covering Thermally Modified Timber (TMT) and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).  The second and third days saw a variety of presentations ranging from ‘African Wood Supply and Business Opportunities’ (Jasveer Singh from Gabon) to wood treatment and more on Thermal Modification (Godfrey Foo).

A new initiative taken by one local exhibitor was the inaugural ‘Play Wood Design Awards’ by CX Joy Hardwoods, a producer of solid wood panels and foreign partner member of AHEC. 27 designers had submitted designs from which 17 prototypes were displayed at the show, made from free-issue panels in American hardwood species.  Visitors over the first two days were asked to vote and 500 did so.  A set of ‘tree stands’ in Oak and Walnut was the outright winner, declared at an award ceremony at which two specialists commented on the result. 

Sylvawood will again be held in Shanghai from 27 – 28 June 2017.