IndiaWood 2018, a fair broadly representing the wood industry, took place for the tenth time in Bangalore from 8 to 12 March. The fair attracts professionals from across the wood industry – from sawmilling operators to production technology companies.
This year, the fair featured more than 850 exhibitors from 40 countries – and now also from Finland for the first time, as the ‘Wood from Finland’ growth program and a delegation of Finnish timber product companies made its first appearance in India.
Despite China being Wood from Finland’s main target market, other potential growing markets are also in the growth program’s crosshairs. Participating in fairs is a good way to chart opportunities to find new customers in new areas. The Wood from Finland delegation has participated in fairs not just around China, but also in Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and Iran – and now, of course, India.
Based on the promising results of market research, sights were set on Bangalore in order to probe the possibilities that exist for high-quality Finnish softwood in the area. Participating in this fair was the first early step closer to the Indian market, where future growth is expected. In addition to Koskisen, other Finnish companies that are part of the growth program also attended the fair.
Jukka Tamminen, Koskisen’s Export Manager for sawn timber, attended the fair and is pleased with Finnish softwood’s premiere on the Indian market. With an astounding 60,000 visitors from around the world, IndiaWood was no minor event. As a new, high-quality material at the fair, softwood raised much interest and wonder.
“Let’s just say there was definitely interest. We didn’t have to bring a single brochure back to Finland,” says Tamminen with a laugh.
There have been many enquiries since the fair. Tamminen believes that there could be tremendous interest in Nordic softwood in India, as long as a suitable end use, for example, in the furniture industry, is found for it. Decorating with wood and showcasing the beautiful wood grain could very well be a future trend in India, too. Demand for higher-quality grades can be expected to grow, but it will still take a few years.
“The fair visitors were mostly interested in how firmly a screw remains fixed in our spruce and pine timber and how much the timber weighs. The starting points for trade are very different for the time being, because for this market, timber is not intended for visual applications, but instead mostly for furniture frames and packaging. This means that properties such as knot size and soundness are not the first thing on their minds,” Tamminen points out.
He nevertheless remains hopeful about the future. “We also have different sawn timber grades, and selling e.g. packaging materials would not be an impossible feat,” he reckons.
“Softwood is already, in fact, exported to India. Austria and Germany are among Europe’s largest producers for the country. And the price/quality ratio is right for the end use. But here in the Nordic countries, where the timber has better characteristics, the price may for now be too high. I still believe, however, that the market contains buyers that need precisely us,” stresses Tamminen.
All in all, Finland and the Finnish element were a hot item in India. Finland’s Ambassador to India, Nina Vaskunlahti, spoke at the official opening of the fair and also opened Wood from Finland’s fair stand. According to Tamminen, the fair stand was probably the largest and most impressive in the growth program’s history.
The stand’s appeal was achieved by marketing Finland’s trump card – pristine nature – which also happens to be a highly valued characteristic in the timber industry even on a global level. Countries are increasingly waking up to green values. One such example is China, which has been won over by Finland’s endless forests and sustainable and high-quality timber products and forest management.
Creating the same kind of interest in India does not appear to be an impossible task for the time being, even though softwood is still, even as a tree species, a very foreign material. The industry and trends are changing, and quality may very well be the buzzword of the future.
“Of course it will
take hard work, but you have to start somewhere,” Tamminen sums up.
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