A Canada Wood Asian manager’s regional meeting took place in Japan from April 25th to 28th. At the meeting, 15 persons from 5 countries (Canada, China, Korea, Indian and Japan) gathered to familiarize themselves with their colleagues and sister markets to exchange information and best practices for developing opportunities and expanding international markets for Canadian wood products. Of the three full days that the manager’s spent together for meetings, presentation and brainstorming sessions, one day was set aside for the group get out of Tokyo to visit Polus Tech’s Post & Beam Pre-Cut Manufacturing Plant in Ibaraki Prefecture, Mitsui Home Component’s 2×4 & Truss Component Manufacture Plant in Saitama Prefecture, and last but not least a tour of a 2,200m² three-storey 2×4 fireproof elderly care facility under construction in Kanagawa Prefecture, designed by Issiki Architects & Partners, constructed by Nagai Construction Co., Ltd. and the structural materials supplied by Wing Co., Ltd. I would like to take this opportunity to thank these Japanese companies and their staff who generously took time out of their busy schedules and hosted our group.
Canada Wood Group (CWG) announces the hiring of Mr. Raj Singh as Business Development Manager to be located in New Delhi, India. Mr. Singh is the second industry representative attached to Canada Wood to be assigned to the BC Forestry Innovation Investment (BC FII) Indian initiative. Mr. Sanjay Gupta was hired on June 23, 2014 to work on behalf of CFPA members in the Mumbai office. This second CW position will be shared jointly by CFPA and COFI.
As part of the expansion of Canadian efforts in India, new officers are being placed in strategic geographic locations closer to key consuming regions. In the 2016 BC Budget Minister Mike de Jong, BC’s Finance Minister, announced a $5 million increase over the next three years earmarked towards development of the Indian market. Incremental funding will go towards augmenting field personnel, expanding product trials with users and launching new market campaigns.
Mr. Singh comes with extensive background in Indian manufacturing and retail operations related to wood, and has a Masters’ degree in ‘Wood Science & Technology’ from the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. He has worked in quality control, procurement and business development capacities.
He commences with Canada Wood in August 2016. We would like to welcome him to the team.
First Time to India
I’ve recently returned from the India Wood 2014 exhibition in Bangalore, India. It was my first visit to India and my market knowledge was limited to two fundamental facts. First, India is a hardwood market, the heavier and the harder the wood the better. Second, softwoods are perceived as inferior and overpriced. However, the Bangalore wood exhibit along with FII led visits to saw-mills, manufacturers, and traders revealed much more optimistic market information.
The “China Effect”
Ten years ago when team Canada (NRCAN, FII & Industry) started developing the China market, there were many questions as to what the return on investment might be. After all, U.S. housing starts were at more than 1.5 million starts, and business was good. Despite some pessimism, market development work continued in China. In five short years, China became a major wood customer that would eventually go on to save thousands of Canadian forestry jobs while the U.S. economy languished. As an Industry, we witnessed the importance of market diversification. I supposed the silver lining of the U.S. collapse and the beetle infestation is that it pushed us to out of our comfort zone to find new markets, namely China. Had we not experienced success in China, there would be very little appetite for market development investment in India, at least not at this early stage. China’s emergence has given us the confidence to invest in new uncharted waters like India.
India Wood 2014 (Bangalore)
Team Canada’s participation at this show was extremely impressive, boasting no less that fourteen wood products companies and organizations.The trade show had 600 exhibitors from more than 40 countries and had 45,000 visitors. Canada’s 40,000 square meter pavilion was one of ten country pavilions. The other nine belonged to Germany, Italy, Turkey, Taiwan, China, Sri Lanka, France, Malaysia and the US.
India Wood Market Optimism
India’s wood market can be summed up in two words: Teak Logs. 75% of the world’s supply of teak comes from Myanmar and Myanmar’s number one customer is India. But teak log supply is tightening and as of last week (April 1, 2014), Myanmar’s teak log export ban went into effect. Teak and other hardwood logs will be increasingly more difficult to source, which means India will gradually shift away from logs to lumber.
But a shift away from logs to lumber isn’t the only shift that will take place. Wood consumption in India is growing 20% a year. Increased demand and decreased availability of hardwoods means that the industry will slowly start to substitute softwoods for hardwoods. The shift has started. Most of the door, window and furniture manufacturers we visited had started utilizing softwoods for core stock. And the manufacturing sector (i.e. doors/windows/furniture/millwork) represents more than half of the wood market. This is the most important segment for Canadian
shippers because wood manufacturers are the ones that place high value on quality and higher value wood species. We don’t really want to be competing with wood products used in the low end of the market (i.e. pallets). As more manufacturers do trials with Canadian species, they will figure out how best to use it whether it’s for furniture, door stock or for interior decoration. Add to that the desire by a young Indian generation wanting to source products that are sustainable, it is clear that Canada is well positioned.
From Jan 28th to Feb 1st, an industry mission representing the BC Interior/Alberta, Eastern Canadian hardwood and BC Coast lumber; plywood/OSB; and the BC wholesale sectors journeyed to New Delhi to participate in a program of merchant and site visits and attend the DelhiWood show.
Central to facilitating and hosting the visit were staff at the recently established Forestry Innovation Consulting India (FII) office based out of Mumbai. Country Director Kant Singh, marketing director Zoish Bengali and technical specialist Brian Leslie did an excellent job at pulling together an interesting program for the Canadian visitors. Viney Gupta trade commissioner at the Canadian High Commission organized an excellent evening reception for the delegation and members of the Indian trade.
Recently Brian Zak (CWG phytosanitary & market access rep) and I visited India. Our primary objective was to expedite the resolution of troublesome plant health and access barriers which were impeding the port clearance of some Canadian species into the market. In addition we wanted to get a feel for the wider opportunities and challenges of selling softwood lumber.
India is without question a fascinating place for the newcomer. Time seems to have stood still: the construction explosion so evident in China is noticeably absent. If one is well traveled in Asia, the temptation to make comparisons is irresistible. And perhaps that is a mistake because India, on second thought, seems unique and difficult to peg in an Asian context. It has its own customs, practices and preferences. It is a vast country in its own right with different peoples and regions. It has a history with wood, but one that’s at variance with the Asian experience. Continue reading