Millwork Customers Return to Southeast Asian Hardwoods as Supply Problems in African Hardwoods are Intensified with Ebola Epidemic

NOTE: While the issues discussed in this article are important to our industry, they pale in comparison to the human toll the people of West Africa are currently facing with the Ebola epidemic. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by this deadly disease, along with the lives of our brave armed forces who have been sent to help. We hope everyone comes back healthy and safe.

Supply Chain Issues Increases Pressure on Imported African Hardwoods

Frequent and lengthy supply delays are common with African exporters. But the Ebola epidemic in Liberia and Sierra Leone exacerbates the already lengthy port delays and creates uncertainty and fear about importing products from the African continent. The U.S. government is tightening port entry procedures for ships that sail from West Africa. Likewise, ships normally calling ports in West Africa are staying away from the region. Many millwork customers and our peers in the industry report that African hardwoods are now harder to procure and the timing of deliveries are very uncertain. Even if these hardwoods originate from other African countries nowhere near the affected regions, the general cloud hanging over exporters remains causing ships calling on numerous ports to avoid the region entirely. Large news organizations such as Fox News have even published reports on the complications and the difficulty that port congestion has wreaked on the fight against Ebola. Shipping companies are responding to the lengthy port delays and congestion by imposing damaging rate increases, making the African species more expensive.

The Ebola scare compounded an already precarious and unpredictable supply base for importers of African hardwoods like Sapele, African Mahogany, and Sipo. As a substitute for Spanish Cedar, . In addition to supply uncertainty, millwork customers uniformly complain that there are all-too-frequent deliveries of African products which are improperly dried and poorly manufactured. As a result, pricing for African species are increasing with significant volatility and uncertainty.

Millwork Customers are Returning to Fine Hardwoods from Reliable Southeast Asian Countries


 OHC Meranti lumber products are a reliable alternative to Sapele, Sipo, and African Mahogany.

The pervasiveness of these issues led to a resurgence in a reliable and sustainable hardwood from SE Asia where OHC specializes. For almost 50 years, OHC developed a core, reliable supply base in South East Asia and has imported high-grade Meranti lumber. OHC’s Meranti is not just any species; rather, OHC selected a few key suppliers to source particular subspecies that compare well to popular African hardwoods.

Customers who have switched from various African hardwoods have reported that OHC procured Meranti is a pleasure to work with and finish. They also said the price is comparable and at times is a better economical solution imported exotic hardwoods from Africa.

OHC is the primary importer of high-grade Meranti lumber to the United States. We have well-established, reputable sources harvesting lumber in a sustainable manner complying with all international trade laws. Our quality control processes ensure uniformly kiln-dried lumber and a well- manufactured product.

For questions about OHC Meranti, call 1-800-999-7616 or contact us online.