AHEC Executive Director Mike Snow discusses the organization’s global strategy

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For 2015-16, AHEC has laid out a four-part strategy designed to “grow the pie” in overseas markets for US hardwood exporters.

With nearly 50% of graded US hardwood lumber production now being exported, international promotion has never been more important to this industry. The US is by far the world’s largest exporter of hardwood lumber, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all global trade. In addition, our exports have nearly doubled in the past four years. For the US hardwood industry, “globalization” is much more than just an abstract concept; it is a concrete reality that influences business decisions on a daily basis. However, globalization has meant not only the migration of manufacturing, but has also led to unprecedented growth in global purchasing power. Indeed, it has now become 

clear that much of the increased demand for hardwood products —including finished products— is coming from outside the US, especially in the rapidly growing economies of Asia.  In terms of promotion, therefore, it is very important that our industry recognize and target not only the high-volume re-export manufacturing sectors of today and tomorrow (the search for the “next China”), but we must also identify new market opportunities and niches within well-established, so-called “mature” markets such as the EU. The AHEC programs are designed to do both, by providing a wide array of information to overseas importers, distributors, specifiers and end users of wood products. For 2015-16, AHEC has laid out a four-part strategy designed to “grow the pie” in overseas markets for US hardwood exporters. A brief outline of that strategy follows:

 

1)      Seek out new markets for hardwood products:

In areas of the world where there is limited understanding of US hardwoods, most notably inland China, India and the Middle East, AHEC will continue to "push" demand through import channels by providing technical information, trade servicing and conducting technical seminars to the importing and manufacturing industries. In more mature markets, the focus will be to "pull" demand by targeting specifiers and manufacturers through a multi-pronged basket of activities that includes demonstration projects, design/architectural seminars, and a targeted PR campaign.

 

2)      Promote new uses and applications within existing markets:

“New markets” means more than just new geographical regions. In 2015 AHEC will continue to be actively involved in identifying and exploiting potential new market segments, such as hardwood use in structural applications through CLT development or the potential for thermally-modified or treated hardwoods to gain a foothold in the exterior applications market.

 

3)      Continue to extoll environmental credentials:

2015 marks the official launch of the American Hardwood Environmental Profile (AHEP), an environmental profiling “tool” that will combine legality information (EUTR, Lacey requirement), sustainability data from the US Forest Service and LCA impacts from the AHEC research. The AHEP makes it possible to produce, at the push of a button, a two-page profile specific to every container of US hardwood exported. At the same time, a multi-pronged PR campaign will continue to target architects, designers and consumers with information on US hardwood forest management as well as the environmental attributes of American hardwoods.

 

4)      Create Networking Opportunities for US Exporters:

In 2015 AHEC will create a number of opportunities for US exporters to engage with overseas buyers.  US hardwood pavilions will be organized at leading global trade shows such as Interzum Guangzhou, the Dubai Wood Show, SylvaWood Shanghai, and Intermob Turkey and VietnamWood. AHEC will also sponsor conventions in China and Mexico and host dozens of seminars and networking receptions around the globe.