In March, EBPA led its third annual tour for lumber buyers from China and Southeast Asia. The group of seven companies from China and Taiwan participated in lumber grading workshops and visited lumber mills, lumber treaters, and re-manufacturers in Portland, OR and New Orleans, LA. The delegation also met with mill representatives and wholesalers during receptions each city.
The August 2016 mission, which hosted a group of twelve lumber buyers from China, Thailand, and Malaysia resulted in over $1.2 million in reported sales of US softwood lumber within two months of the mission. EBPA's first lumber buyer's tour, held in 2015, resulted in over $1 million in immediate reported sales.
These missions serve as both a sales and educational activity. Results of a 2014 survey of Chinese softwood lumber users by Rose Research indicated that a lack of knowledge about US softwood lumber grades was hindering the sale of US softwood lumber. These tours give participants a hands-on and classroom introduction to softwood lumber grades and grading to help them specify the appropriate grade for their needs. It also introduces them to the range of grades and applications through mill and wholesaler visits and tours of field applications.
These trips also help us identify buyers in large markets with a number of importers like China where we help identify and vet companies for our members, and in smaller, but growing markets like Thailand and Malaysia where there are limited promotional activities for US companies.
Given the significant success of these trips, EBPA plans to continue this annual event. Planning and recruiting has begun on the March 2018 tour to Portland, OR and Mobile, AL.