American hardwoods embraced by commercial manufacturers in India
Furnicheer, Ebco and RitikaaWood lead the way as ‘exotic’ look of temperate wood species becomes increasingly popular
US hardwoods have found another foothold in India as commercial manufacturers have now begun to realise the potential benefits of using sustainable and high quality American hardwoods, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry.
Leading the way are established names such as Furnicheer, Ebco and RitikaaWood who are either trialing or commercially using imported American hardwood species including red and white oak, and tulipwood. Whilst the much-publicized potential offered by India for American hardwood exporters has not yet been realized, these developments prove that the market is at a turning point.
Founded in 2013 as a bespoke manufacturer of solid wood furniture, the story of Furnicheer actually took shape over two decades ago, under the creative-perfectionist hands of interior designer Subhangi Vaidyanathan. According to Vaidyanathan, her initial preference were locally-sourced sheesham (Dalbergia sissoo) and mango. Working with indigenous species however posed several challenges. In addition to being CITES-listed (in the case of sheesham), the biggest challenges in working with mango and sheesham were the lack of consistency in quality, in terms of seasoning (kiln-drying) and also resistance to insect attack. Having been introduced to kiln-dried American tulipwood, Vaidyanathan took the decision to order a container of this unique American hardwood species in 2017 and has never looked back.
RitikaaWood is India's premier timber engineering company, specialising in outdoor solid wood products and its extensive applications. Anuj Divanji, managing director, RitikaaWood, shared “We have recently started looking at American red oak as it has a beautiful aesthetic and figure pattern. We do see a good potential for its use in India in the limited market that we are focusing on currently, which includes doors and windows. It's early days yet and we will evaluate this and observe the performance before moving ahead in a major way.”
India’s appetite for sawn temperate hardwoods has been increasing over the past few years.
“Demand for oak in India has also been increasing in recent years and a better understanding of red oak, coupled with lower prices in recent months has allowed it to make some gains over European oak in the market. However, more education is needed to help Indian end-users understand the added value of using kiln-dried hardwood lumber, which requires little to no further processing before use,” concluded Roderick Wiles, AHEC regional director.