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Furniture export from India: facts and trends list

Furniture export image

Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is synonymous with the furniture industry. 

A northwestern Indian city known for its artisanal furniture industry, it accounts for up to 30% of all Indian furniture exports. This isn’t surprising, considering its dry climate and skilled craftsmen make it an ideal location for the furniture industry.

Jodhpur’s furniture industry has grown significantly in the past two decades, with its exports increasing from less than INR 200 crore (about USD 24 million) to about INR 4,500 crore (USD 545 million) now. The industry employs approximately 300,000 people and attracts artisans from all over the country.

Jodhpur furniture is usually made from Sheesham, mango, and Acacia (babool) wood, and is exported mainly to Europe and the United States. Along with other furniture-making states like Kerala, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir, and Punjab, Jodhpur plays a significant role in the Indian furniture industry.

This article at a glance

India is renowned for its handmade, high-quality wooden furniture. Indian furniture is strong, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. It could be customised, with prices that would not break the bank. The demand for this type of furniture presents a huge opportunity for Indian exporters specifically, to export ‘Made in India' items overseas, and for UK furniture importers to source high-quality handmade furniture from India.

Is furniture exported from India?

Yes, India exports furniture. According to India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, ‘Made in India' furniture exports increased sharply from INR 1952 crore (about USD 26 million) in FY 2013-2014 to INR 6790 crore (USD 820 million) in FY 2022-2023. That is a whopping 248% increase in furniture exports.

What types of furniture are exported from India?

India exports all sorts of indoor and outdoor furniture for home, office and industrial use. They include beds, coffee tables, sofa beds, dining chairs, dressing tables, kitchen cabinets, racks and shelving, TV units, bathroom storage, tables and chairs, et cetera. It’s made from a variety of materials — wood, rattan, bamboo, steel, laminates, plastic and other materials.

Which furniture items are the most popular in the export business?

Wooden furniture items are the most popular furniture exported from India.

I needn’t tell you that this reflects a trend. Increasingly environmentally friendly consumers are doing away with plastic and synthetic materials, and instead, they’re opting for furniture made from natural materials such as wood, glass, stone and metal.

Homes and office spaces are a case in point, where natural materials abound. Untreated woods, stone textures, wicker furniture and ceramics. Exporters should take note of these trends and work with suppliers who deal with handcrafted furniture.

Below, we list some of the most popular types of wood used to make Indian furniture.

Furniture wood types

Type of WoodMain QualitiesColourPrice
Teak WoodAesthetically appealing, durable and resistant to rot and decay.Dark yellow to dark brownINR 2,000 onwards per cubic foot
SatinwoodEasy to care for, requires very little maintenance and is very durable.Bright to warm yellowINR 1,250 onwards per cubic foot
White Pine WoodStrong and durable wood which is resistant to termites.Light brown or tanINR 900 onwards per cubic foot
Sal WoodBeautiful, soft texture, and versatile use.Light in colour but may darken when exposed to the sun INR 1,250 onwards per cubic foot
Indian Rosewood (Sheesham)Attractive graining, hardy and tough multipurpose wood.Reddish to golden brownINR 1,500 onwards per cubic foot

Table source:

What are the lead marketplaces for the Indian furniture export industry?

Volza is a website which gathers import and export data from over 20,000 ports from 78 countries. According to them, the top three countries to which India exports their furniture are the United States, France and the Netherlands.

Let’s delve deeper. Out of 570,700 furniture export shipments from India in November 2022, the United States accounted for 210,946 shipments, followed by France with 74,694 shipments and the Netherlands with 53,392 shipments.

How to export furniture from India?

Starting a furniture export business in India involves a few steps that include the following:

  1. Set up a legal business operation. This includes establishing a sole proprietorship, partnership, or company and opening a current bank account with an authorised bank in India.
  2. Obtain a Permanent Account Number (PAN). The Indian Income Tax Department issues a PAN card to individuals and entities for tax purposes.
  3. Obtain an Importer-Exporter Code (IEC) number. An IEC is required for exporting or importing from India and can be done online at the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DFGT) website for a fee of INR 500.
  4. Obtain a Registration and Membership Certificate (RCMC) from the Export Promotion Council. An RCMC allows businesses to export and grants access to other benefits or concessions, if available. You can enquire at India’s Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH).
  5. Price and sample products. Providing customised samples to foreign buyers can help to secure export orders. The price should be calculated based on the terms of sale, such as Free on Board (FOB) or Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF), and account for all expenses from sampling to the realisation of export proceeds. Also, create an export costing sheet for each product.

When ready to export furniture from India, prepare your documentation meticulously. Proper documentation (such as commercial invoices, Air Waybills, Bills of Lading, and packing lists) is necessary for a smooth export process.

How profitable is an Indian furniture export business?

Furniture export from India could be profitable if you know how to market your products and mitigate risks well. Here are some tips to ensure that your furniture export business makes a profit:

  1. Choose the correct type of furniture to export. Are you planning to procure home furniture? Office furniture? Solid wood? Plywood? Unless you are targeting a niche pool of customers, avoid exporting furniture which is too ‘unique'. Aim for evergreen and timeless items that are in demand.
  2. Know your target market’s preferences. Gather data on the types of furniture they like. Do they prefer a traditional design? Modern?
  3. Have an online presence. Enlist your products on your website’s catalogue. Local and international suppliers, vendors and customers can contact you more easily when you provide an email address or contact number.
  4. Consider payment risks that might arise in international trade due to geographical barriers and insolvency issues due to the buyer or country. To mitigate these risks, businesses may obtain an Export Credit Guarantee Corporation policy (ECGC). This can provide a credit limit for a foreign buyer who places an order without paying in advance or opening a letter of credit.

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