Promotional blitz in Caribbean driving U.S. softwood lumber exports

Caribbean promotional blitz

The Caribbean is among the highest-volume export markets for the U.S. softwood industry, with sales exceeding $200 million annually. The U.S. holds a large share of the market but risks losing sales to alternative building materials as builders seek to build structures resistant to high winds.

Continuous efforts are needed to train builders on correct wood-frame construction practices and the environmental benefits of choosing wood.

As part of its training efforts, the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA), a nonprofit trade association, expanded its technical training seminars throughout the region as part of a promotional blitz in the Caribbean, reaching many buyers for the first time. Collectively, more than 100 lumber traders and construction professionals were trained at four training seminars in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, the industry’s largest markets in the region, in 2022. SFPA also held a virtual seminar reaching buyers throughout the region and some markets for the first time.

Evaluation surveys from this promotional blitz in the Caribbean show most respondents felt the seminars “significantly” increased their understanding of U.S. lumber, and well more than half of the respondents are “very likely” to specify new products as a result of the training. Many expressed interest in more events such as these in the future.

Encouragingly, exports to the region in 2022 reached another near record at nearly $243 million.

The wood industry’s training efforts reached a record number of buyers in the Caribbean.

The softwood industry is grateful for the Agriculture Trade Program and Market Access Program funds, as well as the support and assistance of USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) officers and staff in the region. Without their support, these events would not have been achievable or successful.

SFPA FAS-administered programs to promote Southern Pine lumber exports. These cost-share programs, including the Foreign Market Development (FMD), Market Access Program (MAP), Emerging Markets Program (EMP), and Agriculture Trade Promotion allow the industry to reach emerging markets that were previously untapped. Many operations are family-owned small to medium enterprises.