Expanding Export Markets for U.S. Softwood Products
Helping industry organizations establish and grow sales around the world
SEC is reaching international buyers and end users through its new YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaA_XXfjf4PfZvW--6w8rrg. The channel features SEC and member videos including lumber grading tutorials and other educational and promotional videos.
The Softwood Export Council (SEC), the Southern Pine Council, and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), exhibited for the first time at the Thai Architect Expo, held annually by the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage. The event gathers the country’s leading architects and construction professionals, with attendance reportedly reaching 500,000 – although attendance seemed significantly lower. The event was themed “Living Green”, tying-in well with the “wood is good” message delivered by the U.S. association speakers at a seminar during the event.
During the event, the group cooperated with the US Foreign Agricultural Service to conduct a seminar about the use of US lumber. The seminar attracted construction professionals and building material traders who attended to hear about wood products centering on the “Green Living” theme of the trade show. Speakers were:
The event was very well attended, gathering a “standing room only” audience of 84 attendees. Interest was high judging from the numerous questions that the presenters fielded, some of which were:
Bluestain – Echoing earlier discussions, attendees asked about addressing bluestain often found in imported softwoods.
Pricing – Attendees requested pricing of U.S. softwoods, a question that is often asked in new emerging markets. Speakers responded that there’s no easy answer as it depends on the species, grade, size, transport costs, etc. Nevertheless, research shows that U.S. softwoods are priced competitively in the market, particularly in light of rising prices of domestic rubberwood.
Termites – The audience appeared keenly interested in thwarting termite damage in wood, asking numerous questions on subterranean termites vs. Formosans (Formosans are a variety of subterraneans), types of wood preservatives, etc.
Follow up work to facilitate interactions between US softwood lumber suppliers and importers and manufacturers will be held in October 2020. Please see the SEC Events page for more information.
In the final months of 2017, SEC hosted two groups of incoming delegates from Mexico and Thailand. The Mexican representatives visited Seattle before attending the NAWLA Traders Market in Chicago, and shortly thereafter we hosted the Thai group in Portland for a comprehensive tour of the softwood industry in Oregon & Washington. While appealing to different markets, both of these missions focused on innovation at the mill and in construction, highlighting sustainability, efficiency, and the symbiotic relationship of these two properties.
These tours are at the heart of SEC's mission: to build relationships through more personal outreach. Hosting delegates is a strategic way to get importers from different markets to begin thinking about American softwoods, first because of the connection we've built, and finally because of the quality of our wood and the examples we have illustrated by examining creative end-uses. In demonstrating how and why the U.S. consumes wood, we join others to our cause, as our sites speak for themselves: wood is transformed for visitors into an exciting material that brings light and warmth into corporate spaces, character into homes, and carries enormous long-term benefits for the health of our planet.
To prepare these inbound missions, our itineraries are carefully crafted to exhibit a holistic system that allows a burgeoning market to understand the advantages of American softwoods, and what it would take to replicate our best-practices. Our itinerary for the Thais is a great example: it included tours of a forest, multiple mills, a CLT exhibition, and construction sites that exemplified the possibilities of mass timber, while also demonstrating the opportunities for efficiency in construction that wood can provide. Likewise, our Mexican delegates visited finished sites where mass timber meets sustainability in public and corporate spaces. The seminars we arrange are supplementary, offering an opportunity to delve deeper and ask questions about what the visiting groups have seen. This technical training privileges structural lumber and construction sectors: when you teach people how to build with wood, they buy wood. And, of course, we include networking opportunities for our members, and exposure to our industry.
There are upcoming inbound missions planned for 2018 that will use these same systems-based tenets. A delegation from China in January will focus on mass timber engineering systems, while an incoming Pakistani group in July will focus on sourcing. Ensuring our programs meet the needs of the markets they're designed to inform is crucial, as these are countries in different stages of development. Pakistan is an early-market distribution area, while China has the infrastructure to handle mass timber and will be excited about the opportunities U.S. softwood can bring their growing skyline.
Visitors can expect compelling talks touching on the grading of U.S. softwoods as well as get up close and personal with influential presenters from OWIC such as Scott Leavengood, director of OWIC; Chris Knowles, associate professor in Forest Products Marketing in the Department of Wood Science and Engineering at OSU; Eric Hansen, professor of Forest Products Marketing and Interim Department Head of Wood Science and Engineering at OSU; and Jeff Morrel, professor in Wood Science and Engineering at OSU with a specialisation in deterioration of wood and its prevention through preservative treatments