9 SFPA Members Represent Southern Pine at VietnamWood 2022

Fourteen representatives from the United States, including nine Southern Forest Products Association members, represented Southern Pine and American Softwoods at VietnamWood 2022 from October 18-21.

VietnamWood is one of the largest and most reputable tradeshows for the wood processing and furniture manufacturing industries in Southeast Asia. VietnamWood and its sister show, Vietnam International Furniture Accessories, Hardware & Tools Exhibition (Furnitec), attract the world’s leading manufacturers that showcase new manufacturing technologies and trends in one venue. It is also a major event for connecting with importers of softwood and hardwood lumber.

Background on Vietnam and Wood

Vietnam is a leading center for furniture and millwork manufacturing, with a significant export turnover of wood and wood products in the upper millions. The country is the world’s sixth leading exporter of processed wood products and the second leading exporter in Asia, with a 4% share of the global market. Over the past 10 years, the wood processing industry has become one of Vietnam’s top export industries.

While slowly recovering from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam has a thriving wood processing sector heavily dependent on imported logs and lumber. According to the latest calculations of the Research Group of Timber Associations and Forest Trends, based on statistics from the General Department of Customs, in 2021, Vietnam imported more than 4.2 million m3 of logs and softwood lumber valued at $263 million. Softwood volume measurements were unavailable because of inconsistent volume units recorded.

U.S. exports of forest products to Vietnam reached $350 million in 2019, while Vietnam was the third largest market in the world for U.S. hardwood exports. U.S. softwood exports tp Vietnam suffered during the 2020-21 U.S. housing boom and related lumber price spike, but U.S. exports are expected to rebound as prices and logistics have normalized and manufacturing in Vietnam returns to normal. Experts also expect U.S. species to increase as Vietnam expands its use of softwoods in furniture and construction.

It is worth noting, though, U.S. softwood remains relatively new to many Vietnamese wood processors. Pine from Chile and New Zealand dominants the market, with 2019 export value reaching $69 million and $57 million, respectively. 

The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service‘s Ho Chi Minh post expects Vietnam’s wood processing industry to continue to grow in the medium and long-term and offer more opportunities for U.S. logs and lumber because of the shortage of domestic materials. They believe the growth in the wood processing industry is sustainable, as the country has a skilled workforce and historically strong capital investment.

In addition, Vietnam is party to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and just ratified the EVFTA in June 2020.

Vietnam’s plantation forests are expected to be one of the important sources to replace the imported supply. However, there are still many limitations to create a domestic supply of quality forest timber. The majority of plantation timber in Vietnam is small wood, with 60-70% used to make wood chips and pellets. Large quantities of timber, especially those with a Sustainable Forest Management Certificate (FSC), are still very limited.

It is necessary to tighten control of imported risky timber, manage and make the domestic market transparent, which will help reduce the supply of imported risky timber, thereby creating opportunities for domestically planted forest timber, including the wood generated by the development linkage model. It is necessary to diversify tree species to meet the diverse needs of product categories.

VietnamWood 2022 Show Experience

The 14 representatives at VietnamWood 2022 helped staff an 18-square-meter booth that featured lumber samples and educational literature. Traffic at the show was lighter than pre-COVID years, as many Vietnamese citizens have not fully returned to large public gatherings.

The American Softwoods booth received 57 visitors who left their contact information, including 16 who completed a survey about attitudes toward U.S. softwood species. The greatest number of inquiries received were about Southern Yellow Pine logs and lumber followed by Douglas fir, cedar, and hem-fir.

A lack of knowledge by importers of U.S. softwood species and U.S. supply capability are the main constraints inhibiting U.S. exports. FAS Ho Chi Minh post believes U.S. softwood will gain market share as local stakeholders become more educated and Vietnam expands its use of softwood in furniture and construction.

American Softwoods plans to continue to participate in VietnamWood to educate Vietnamese importers and manufacturers about U.S. softwood species and their applications. Future participation may include roundtable discussions with key importers to introduce them to U.S. species and grades and support an exchange.

SFPA members: Don’t forget to check out the contacts secured during the show and their corresponding contact information on our members-only site!