Eduardo Stehling, Biologist at Bela Vista Forestry.
The use of a high-value tropical species for lumber production has always attracted all sorts of investors to the forestry market. These species, also known as “alternative species”, stand out mainly because their valuable woods, their exclusive traits, such as color, features, weight and workability. Harvesting cycles vary between 10 and 25 years in most species. This timeframe always brings questions to producers who sometimes feel insecure to choose the species and what it will be used for. Seeking answers for these questions and trying to understand the Australian cedar market in Brazil, Bela Vista Forestry decided to invest in the development of a brand and a product line to show the potential of the species – Austral, the first Brazilian company to produce goods made from Australian cedar timber.
Austral rises from the need to put the Australian cedar wood to the test, in order to validate prices, its usability and target markets. The emergence of market information comes to further encourage the cultivation of the species, a recent fruit of breeding, a research outcome responsible for huge productivity gains.
Our partnership with an award-winning design company was a very important step to launch the company. We went to Barral & Lamounier design office, from Minas Gerais, to initially develop a gourmet line. From this partnership emerged pieces that combine the qualities of the wood, such as lightness and visual beauty to a contemporary concept, which could explore new aspects such as functionality and creativity.
The raw material chosen to make the utensils was the Australian cedar “finger joint” panel. This decision has based on the beauty of the raw material also the versatility in its making, where we could use wood thinnings. The panel is assembled from a 3x3x70 cm long lamellae, which are glued and pressed in an industrial process in order to obtain large parts, including tables tops.
The panels used in the manufacture of the pieces had their wood sawn and dried at the Bela Vista Forestry sawmill in Campo Belo, MG, a plant currently working exclusively with Australian cedar wood. BRA Rewood, in Sao Paulo, is responsible for making the panels, and the pieces and utensils are made in Campo Belo.
The Austral Gourmet line was recently launched at Paralela Gift, a design and decoration trade fair at Ibirapuera, in Sao Paulo. The pieces were a big hit and showed that there is large demand for new and alternative products in this market, especially from new wood species. Among the products in the line we have cold cuts boards, trays of various sizes and shapes, bowls and meat boards, as well as tables and niches for arrangements.
The launch, showcasing our line of products, attracted important companies as customers. The products can currently be found in several Brazilian capitals, in major appliances and decorative objects stores, like Domi in Belo Horizonte and Eataly in Sao Paulo.
Adding value to the gourmet product line proved to be very positive, in some cases making the price of Australian cedar wood to the final consumer reach R $ 25,000.00/m³ for some pieces. It is important to notice that this value is much higher than the cubic meters of lumber, usually sold in retail and with minimal processing.
The experience of entering the timber and products market has brought many positive results and expanded the range of possibilities with Australian cedar for the company in the market, enabling us to plot future actions. The most important lesson learned was to show that the quality, price, acceptance and use of Australian cedar wood are meeting the expectations projected for the species, showing the crop’s viability in Brazil. The Brazilian market is eager for good initiatives and quality wood with a certificate of origin.