Huge interest in Swedish wood at furniture fair in Western China

Having been active for many years in China’s east coast cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, the industry organisation Swedish Wood has now taken part in a furniture fair in the inland city of Chengdu, in Western China. Chengdu is a potentially important growth area for Swedish sawmill exports and the aim of Swedish Wood’s stand at the fair was to inspire and inform the Chinese furniture industry about Swedish wood and to create new contacts between them and representatives from Swedish sawmill companies.

Chengdu, capital of the Sichuan province, has grown at a fast pace, and is considered one of the leading cities for investment in inland China. Chengdu is now the third largest area for furniture manufacture and the fourth largest for furniture distribution in China. Chengdu’s urban area has 10 million inhabitants and the Sichuan province has 80 million.

“The Chinese furniture industry is a key export market for sawn wood products from Sweden and the region around Chengdu has great development potential for our members, although a great deal of work still needs to be done to build up the market for Swedish wood in the region. One conclusion from the fair is that, while interest in Swedish wood is strong in the region, knowledge levels are low,” says Charlotte Dedye Apelgren, Director of Interior and Design at Swedish Wood.

The 17th International Furniture Manufacturing & Supply Fair (IFFC) was held in Chengdu in July. The fair was divided into two events: the first on 3–6 July involved the furniture manufacturers and a target audience of furniture retailers, while the second on 12–15 July had a focus on materials, components and machinery for the manufacture of furniture. Swedish Wood exhibited at both these events.

The Swedish Wood stand had a display of furniture in Swedish pine created by Chinese designers, along with samples showing different surface finishes achieved on Swedish pine and spruce by brushing, painting, varnishing and staining the wood.

“In presenting concrete examples of furniture and finishes, we wanted to inspire the Chinese furniture industry to use solid Swedish coniferous wood in its production. The trade fair visitors showed huge interest in the pine furniture and surface finishes, and many went up to touch and feel the displayed items. Wood is unique in the way it encourages handling and is warm and pleasant to the touch,” continues Charlotte Dedye Apelgren.

The Swedish Wood stand also presented information on the high quality of Swedish wood and on sustainable Swedish forestry. In addition, the stand had areas set aside for business discussions between the representatives from the Swedish sawmill companies and potential Chinese customers. The following member companies were represented on the Swedish Wood stand: Bergkvist Insjön, Holmen, Martinsons, Norrskog Wood Products, SCA, Setra Group and Södra.

About Swedish wood exports to China
Exports of coniferous wood from Sweden to China have risen steadily in recent years. 2011 was the first year that saw exports exceed 100,000 m3 and since then the figure has grown year on year. In 2015 exports amounted to 530,000 m3 and this year they are expected to reach over 700,000 m3.

China is judged to be one of the markets with the greatest potential for Swedish sawn wood products. Most of the Swedish sawmill companies export to China, and several of the biggest companies have local sales offices in the country.