Increasing awareness and availability of B.C. forest products in Vietnam

Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) continues to expand opportunities for B.C. forest products within Vietnam’s growing furniture sector. As part of this effort, FII Vietnam has been building relationships with local wholesalers to increase awareness of B.C. species and support local manufacturers looking to try Canadian wood as an alternative to traditional hardwoods.

While COVID-19 has greatly affected the opportunity to hold networking and trade show events across many markets, Vietnam’s effective response to the pandemic has allowed some industry events to resume. This has given FII Vietnam the opportunity to continue to showcase B.C. species at in-market events and forge relationships with local companies. At a recent event hosted by a local wholesaler partner, FII Vietnam showcased a range of B.C. lumber as well as finished furniture and joinery products made from sustainable Canadian lumber. Over 200 local manufacturers and visitors attended the event and toured the warehouse where FII put together two showrooms. FII Vietnam’s Business Development team was onsite to speak with visitors and generate fresh leads and opportunities with new, prospective clients.

In addition to showcasing B.C. species and developing initial inroads with local partners, FII Vietnam also offers continued technical support for potential customers unfamiliar with B.C. lumber. In doing so, the team is able to highlight the favourable properties and features of B.C. species while removing barriers to uptake.

Through continuing to showcase B.C. species at local events, developing relationships with local wholesalers and manufacturers, and providing ongoing technical assistance, FII Vietnam continues to grow awareness and expand opportunities for B.C. forest products within the Vietnam market.

 

 

Diversifying Applications for B.C. Species in Vietnam

Since entering the market, product trials have been a key component of Forestry Innovation Investment’s strategy in Vietnam. Through forming inroads with local manufacturers, the team has introduced B.C. softwood products not previously well-known in Vietnam, while demonstrating the benefits of using Canadian species in a range of applications.

In an effort to expand opportunities for B.C. forest products within Vietnam’s diverse manufacturing sector, the team in Vietnam recently concluded a trial with a major producer of cable reels used within the local electric wire and cable industry. Each year, this company produces thousands of metric tons of finished product for the domestic and international marketplace.

FII’s Business Development Team in Vietnam approached the company to see if they would be interested in trialling B.C. softwood products as an alternative to traditional species. Working closely with the company, the Vietnam team was able to understand their needs and recommend the appropriate size and grade of B.C. wood that would best fit this application.

The company was provided with a small volume of spruce-pine-fir (S-P-F) low- and mid-grades to conduct the trial.  The company was particularly pleased with the finishing properties, high strength to weight ratio of the product, the high recovery of finished components, and availability of wide widths. The possibility of securing a large volume and steady supply of S-P-F was also very attractive to this customer.

Following the trial, the team in Vietnam introduced the company to major S-P-F producers. Commercial contracts were then concluded, with firm orders confirmed for more than 400 cubic metres to support a larger-scale commercial trial.

Through diversifying product trials beyond furniture manufacturing, the team in Vietnam was able to identify another new application for B.C. species within the local market.

Growing opportunities for B.C. species in Vietnam through local wholesaler partnership

As the second-largest exporter of wooden furniture in Asia and with low domestic wood supply, Vietnam’s demand for wood imports is high. Since 2017, Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) has been working with government and industry partners to position the B.C. forest sector as a reliable supplier of sustainable wood products within Vietnam’s growing wood in the manufacturing segment.

One component of FII’s strategy in Vietnam is to increase awareness of B.C. species by educating local manufactures, importers and traders on the technical properties and workability of B.C.’s softwood products.

FII Vietnam has built a relationship with Tavico – one of South Vietnam’s largest wholesalers of softwood and hardwood products from around the world. Since 2005, Tavico has become well-known in Vietnam, with a large customer base consisting of furniture, window and door manufacturers, as well as traders, architects, designers and contractors.

Tavico encourages customers to visit their warehouse where they have an inventory of B.C. products. Customers can view a variety of B.C. softwood species and grades that are used for different applications such as furniture, windows and doors. Tavico provides additional services for custom cutting, planing and drying to meet customer’s specific project requirements.

FII Vietnam has been working with Tavico and providing a range of support including wood samples, technical assistance, marketing materials and staff training seminars. These efforts have resulted in the expansion of knowledge and acceptance of several B.C. softwood species, including Spruce-Pine-Fir, western hemlock, Douglas-fir and western red cedar, to Tavico’s wide range of customers – one of whom recently placed a large order of western hemlock for door applications.

Moving forward, FII Vietnam will continue to build on this relationship with Tavico and use the model to build future connections with local wholesalers to ensure they stock Canadian inventory in their warehouses.

Product Trial Success in Vietnam

A key component of Forestry Innovation Investment (FII)’s market diversification strategy is to expand awareness and use of B.C. forest products across Asia. In 2015, in collaboration with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the Canada Wood Group, FII conducted market assessments of key markets in Southeast Asia to identify new opportunities for B.C. species. As Asia’s second-largest exporter of furniture, and with wood product processing out-pacing domestic supply, Vietnam’s wood in manufacturing (WIM) sector stood out as a strong potential market opportunity for B.C. forest products. 

To tap into Vietnam’s WIM sector, FII’s strategic focus has been to use product trials as a mechanism for introducing local companies to B.C. species. Mirroring FII India’s “Try Canadian Wood” program, FII Vietnam has been supplying targeted groups of local manufacturers with small volumes of B.C. wood products, allowing them to become familiar with B.C. species by producing samples and prototypes. The technical team in Vietnam provides assistance to the manufacturers to help them understand the properties of B.C. species and advise them throughout the trial process.

Recent trials have been showing positive signs that B.C.’s softwood species have the potential to capture good returns and displace traditionally used species from Europe and Asia. 

B.C. species that have become popular as a result of the trials include western hemlock, Spruce-Pine-Fir (S-P-F) and western red cedar. Due to its favourable finishing properties and ability to accept any paint, stain or clear finish, western hemlock has emerged as a preferred product for use in a wide variety of furniture applications such as dining tables and chairs, bunk beds, bedroom sets and living room furniture. Hemlock has also seen some success with interior and exterior doors. S-P-F has gained traction within furniture and door core applications – a process in which S-P-F is used to form the “core” of the door and then is overlaid with hemlock or other species. While western red cedar was already a popular choice for saunas and panelling, product trials are underway to expand the use of western red cedar into outdoor furniture and patio sets.

While still in the early stages of market development, FII has seen a positive trend in B.C. forest product exports as local manufacturers become more familiar with B.C. species and their applications. Initial trials are being showcased through trade shows such as VIFA, Vietnam Wood and Highpoint Market in the U.S. Products are also showcased in manufacturer/end-customer showrooms with the goal of driving larger-scale future orders. 

BC Softwood Lumber Exports to Vietnam (m3)

BC Softwood Lumber Exports to Vietnam (CDN $)

 

 

Wood in Manufacturing—Capacity Building

Three key markets have a strategic focus on wood in manufacturing (WIM): India, China and Vietnam. The WIM strategy targets high potential end-use segments, such as indoor and outdoor furniture manufacturing, interior finishing products and the door and doorjamb industry.  While the strategy is most advanced in India, efforts are expanding in China, with exploratory work underway in Vietnam.

To support in-market capacity building for working with B.C. species, Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) Vancouver collaborated with the Canada Wood Group and teams in India, China and Vietnam to develop two tools for use within these markets; an illustrative guidebook on B.C. Interior wood species and lumber grades, and an informative video on B.C. wood in manufacturing. Both tools work to expand the knowledge and use of B.C. softwood products within the WIM sector.

 

The Interior Wood Species and Grades Book

The Interior Wood Species and Grades Book serves as a guide to understanding B.C.’s Interior softwood species, their most successful applications and the lumber grades typically available for export within each species group. The book includes at-a-glance descriptions, illustrations and full-page photos of Interior Douglas-fir and Spruce-Pine-Fir (S-P-F) lumber and their primary grade characteristics.

This publication was developed in response to a need identified during a collaborative strategy session by in-market team leaders and is intended as a guide for buyers, users and specifiers to help identify the grade of B.C. interior wood species that best meets their requirements. The development and promotion of this document seeks to showcase the versatile and aesthetic properties of B.C. wood species for use within India, China and Vietnam.

Phase 2 will incorporate the development of a Coastal species grades book which will include western hemlock, western red cedar, yellow cedar and Coastal Douglas-fir.

Download the Interior Wood Species and Grades Book here.

 

The Story of B.C. Wood in Manufacturing Video

Another initiative to support cross-market collaboration was the development of the video, The Story of B.C. Wood in Manufacturing. The video tells the story of B.C. wood, from planting a seedling to manufacturing and shipping lumber, while highlighting the B.C. forest sector as a sophisticated and interconnected industry of sustainable forest management and wood processing.

Developed for use in Vietnam, China and India, the video serves as a promotional and informative tool to expand the awareness and use of B.C. softwood forest products within WIM sectors. The video has been translated and is available in English, Mandarin and Vietnamese languages.

Watch The Story of B.C. Wood in Manufacturing video here.