PINE chips manufactured by Tropik Wood Industries Ltd will soon head for new markets in China, says chief executive officer Faiz Khan.
Mr Khan said the new market was secured after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a Chinese company.
The export of pine chips to China also includes the chips from Tropik Wood Products Ltd in Wairiki Port in Bua.
"We expect a first shipment to China this year," Mr Khan said.
"The potential growth market for Tropik is China," he said.
"Although China has traditionally been a hardwood importer of wood chip for its pulp and paper mills, our softwood chips is a potential substitute.
"Our challenge is to change the Chinese mind-set from hardwood to softwood as much as possible," he added.
Mr Khan said the demand for pine chips this year had been low.
"As the Viti Levu operations will show, historically pine softwood plantation wood chip demand has been highly volatile and cyclical — high one year and low the otherm," he said.
"2012 demand is low and we can only produce what we can sell.
"The reasons have been multiple including the 2009 global recession, partial replacement of paper-based product such as newspapers to the increased use of internet," he added.
Mr Khan said the situation had also seen a group of landowners visit the company.
"The landowners have approached me as well on this issue.
"With Bua chipping starting only a few months ago, the world wood chip market trend and conditions would be new to the people of Vanua Levu," he said.
"We can all understand that people's expectations are high after the 15-year wait for this project to start.
"However, that expectation must be matched with market reality."
Mr Khan said the effect had been felt among all players.