Posted by Dave on Apr 10th 2023
What's the future of teak?
Teak has always been a primary material for boats of all sizes, for many reasons. It's beautiful, it's incredibly weather resistant and heard wearing, it's tolerant of maintenance lapses, and did I mention that it's beautiful? It's also always been expensive, and it also has a tendency to grow in politically challenged places. Myanmar (formerly Burma) accounts for about half of the world's teak supply, but is currently sanctioned by most western nations, and bringing Myanmar-originated teak into the US is currently illegal. Between the removal of such a large proportion of the global supply, the long term trend of teak demand outpacing supply, and the challenges of finding legal teak coupled with the penalites (severe) for falling afoul of the sanctions, you can't put too many boat people in a room without a "teak issues" conversation breaking out.
Since so many of our more popular products are made with teak, headlined by our cockpit tables, we took particular notice of this situation and secured a (for us, at least) substantial supply of teak before supply really became pinched and prices for the teak that was available went crazy. The wood importer with whom we and several of our partner businesses work has since completely stopped trading in teak at any price because of the difficulty and legal risks involved. For the foreseeable future, we're happy to be able to continue to offer so many of our signature products with legally-sourced wood.
The future for teak isn't so clear. Some builders have begun transitioning to other similar hardwoods like sapele. Others seem sanguine about things working themselves out, and still others have begun using more and more laminate and faux-teak finishes. Even with the success of our new teak and carbon PowerWheel, we're comfortable that our supply will last at least several seasons, by which point we imagine that a workable path forward - whether with renewed teak availability or with a broadly accepted alternate - will have identified itself. For the meantime, we're happy to be in the shape we are.