American hardwood lumber

Hickory, red oak and white oak drive growth of U.S. hardwood lumber exports to India in 2024

Total value of American hardwood lumber and veneer exported to India was USD 2.87 million in the first four months of this year

Total exports of U.S. hardwood lumber and veneer to India in the first four months of 2024 reached USD 2.87 million, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry. Statistics compiled from the latest data released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that U.S. hardwood lumber exports to India reached USD 2.373 million whilst U.S. hardwood veneer exports were valued at USD 497,000. In addition, USD 1.392 million worth of American hardwood logs were imported into the country during the same time period.

A closer look at the numbers reveal that total hardwood lumber shipped from the United States to India declined by 18 percent in value to reach USD 2.373million (down from USD 2.889 million) and by 28 percent in volume to reach 3,628 cubic meters (down from 5,035 cubic meters). However, the downturn was entirely due to a decline in India’s imports of just two species - ash and maple. Exports of the oaks, hickory and walnut to India during the period increased significantly, with the top three being white oak (USD 692,000 and 1,059m3), hickory (USD 611,000 and 703m3), and red oak (USD 557,000 and 889m3). A significant increase was also seen in exports of walnut, with the value and volume of shipments both increasing by 197 percent and 304 percent to reach USD 202,000 and 230m3 respectively.

According to Trade Data Monitor, India imported some USD 192 million worth of hardwood lumber in 2023. This came from many different supplying countries, with much of it coming from Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America and much of that was accounted for by plantation teak. In terms of temperate hardwoods, the biggest supplier was the European Union, which shipped around USD 24 million to India. Most of this was accounted for by France and Germany (live sawn oak, beech, ash and European maple). The UK's sizeable exports of hardwood lumber to India are entirely accounted for by willow for cricket bats.

The United States accounted for about 5 percent of the total market last year (in value) and this marks a significant increase from three years ago. The numbers may still be relatively small, but the past three years have shown that India's appetite for American hardwoods is growing quickly. More importantly, there is a much room for growth and the long-term trend is for India's imports of hardwood lumber to continue to grow over the coming years, while log imports will continue to decline. Limited domestic hardwood supplies, coupled with strong sustained growth, makes India an attractive and long-term prospective market for U.S. hardwoods.

“It is extremely positive to see the demand for American oak increasing in India. Combined, the oaks are the dominant species in the U.S. hardwood forests with their distinctive grain pattern and are suitable for a wide range of applications including furniture, flooring, doors, architectural joinery, mouldings and kitchen cabinets. Despite the current lack of well-established distribution channels and with very few importers/distributors keeping stock on the ground as yet, it is promising to see India embrace the most sustainable and widely-available American hardwood species,” concluded Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.