The latest figures released by the American Hardwood Export Council suggest that the preference for American species in Australia and New Zealand continues to go from strength to strength.
US hardwood lumber exports to Australia increased by 21 per cent in 2018 and to New Zealand by 11 per cent to a value of USD 15.6 million and USD 6.65 million respectively on the previous year. At the same time, across Oceania the volume of American hardwood veneer imports increased by 25 per cent and flooring by 24 per cent.
American white oak continued to dominate for both Australia and New Zealand, a reflection of an enduring global and local trend for this blond timber. However, American walnut also saw a boost in both markets with volume increases of 50 per cent in Australia to 712 cubic metres and over 400 per cent in New Zealand in what appears to be a response to a shift to a richer palate amongst designers and architects in the region.
American red oak, the lesser-known but more abundantly available cousin of white oak, is also of growing interest amongst importers with a volume increase of just under 20 per cent in Australia. Rod Wiles, Regional Director for the American Hardwood Export Council says of the figures “American red oak is the one to watch. It is the most widely-available species in the American hardwood forest and has similar characteristics to white oak. The grain is more open and it is actually more suitable for staining than white oak, which makes it a more versatile choice in many ways. We are fielding a lot of enquiries from the more savvy architects and designers about this species, which is one of the reasons we’ve decided to make it the focus of our Denfair collaboration in Melbourne this June”.
“Australia and New Zealand remain important markets for us” he adds. “Not only does the demand continue to be strong but the designers and architects are very sophisticated in their understanding and use of different species. They appreciate the advantages and limitations and also value the strong environmental credentials of US hardwoods. We are delighted that our industry can supply raw materials that meet their exacting needs.”