Opportunities for the Utilization of Non-traditional Species in Wood-based Component Manufacturing

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Virginia Tech

A mail survey of the US secondary wood products industry was conducted to assess the current species used and the market potential for the use of "non-traditional" species. Seven market segments within the secondary wood products industry were surveyed including the cabinet, flooring, millwork, office furniture, dimension and component, window and door, and household furniture market segments. Information from three hundred and fifty-seven was analyzed for this research.

The results indicate that the secondary wood products industry is using a majority of "traditional" species to manufacture their products. For the industry as a whole, oak was the most popular species, which included the use of both red and white oak. Red oak average board footage use was calculated to be 1.3 million per year in the secondary industry.
"Traditional" species for the component manufacturing segment were determined to be red oak, white oak, hard maple, cherry, ash, and soft maple. These species are being produced because of consumer demand. The component segment sells most of its products to the household furniture and cabinet market segment. Both of these markets are driven by fashion trends and what consumers view as "in-style." The component segment will be able to produce more "non-traditional" wood products when their customers (i.e., the six other market segments that were surveyed) begin to make finished goods with these species.
Analysis showed that significant differences did exist between "non-traditional" species using companies and "traditional" companies on their ratings of component and component supplier attributes. Consistent supply was one attribute that was rated higher by many segments' "non-traditional" species users. The issue of supply will need to be addressed before many of these companies will be willing to use more "non-traditional" species. Within the overall secondary industry there was a significant difference between the importance that "traditional" species users placed on consistent supply and the importance that "non-traditional" species users placed on this attribute. "Non-traditional" species users were more concerned with having a consistent supply of their raw material and component products. For "non-traditional" species to be successful within the secondary wood products industry, a proven supply line must first be established.

There is a potential to use "non-traditional" species in all of the markets that were surveyed. The millwork segment displays the most potential. This market segment already uses a wide variety of wood species, which shows there is no dominate species that is desired. The office furniture market segment also displays potential for "non-traditional" species. This segment desires a low priced raw material and "non-traditional" species can fulfill that need.

Virginia, Blacksburg, May 13th 2003, non-traditional, species, wood products