Stone Sector: 2015 has been a golden year for Marble.

tue 24 MAY 2016
The growing US demand of processed stone items drags world exports.

2015 was another golden year for the international trade of natural stone. The international market of stone products did indeed generate, in 2015, a trade flow of 25.7 billion euro, showing an increase of 12.4% on 2014. These are the data reported in "Stone Sector 2016", the statistical annual report prepared by the Internazionale Marmi e Macchine Carrara Research Office to evaluate trends and outlook for the international stone trade.This increase is not due to an increase in quantities traded internationally, but rather to the higher average unit value of products on the international market by the main players in the sector, first of all, China and Italy.

 China is once again the leading country in terms of market share in global natural stone exports and Chinese companies account for 42% of the world's exported value. Italy is in second position with a market share of 12.4%, down one percentage point on 2014. The decline in the Italian market share did not depend on a reduction in Italian exports, since the value of Italian exports of ornamental stone in 2015 reached a record of over 2 billion euro, rising by 6.3%. It occurred because the Italian export growth was lower than the increase in world exports (+ 17%). The good news  is that the export of processed marble is today the half of the total Italian export value. In 2015, Italy exported to the rest of the world 915 000 tons of processed marble, worth over one billion euro, with an increase of  2.6% in quantity and 9.8% in value, with respect to 2014.In 2015, the United States became the first market for the worldwide natural stone industry, exceeding China for the first time. In 2015, the US imported stone materials, primarily finished products, for a value of 2.4 billion euro, recording a 24.1% increase on 2014.

The positive trend of the US demand was sustained by the appreciation of the dollar, and the fact that natural stone, in particular marble, is becoming an increasingly fashionable material used not only for floors and walls but also objects of design in marble and furnishings. “The use of marble as a precious stone to be carefully used, favours the transition of the stone industry into a circular economy, whereby even waste, if properly treated, can be reused and enhanced to create an object of particular value” Says Manuela Gussoni – Head of IMM Research Office “For eco-design and the luxury market, stone is a pliable and particularly attractive material leading to synergies between the marble industry and fashion, where a flake can become a jewel and waste from the cut of a slab can be turned into a pair of glasses.”
The main supplier country for the stars and stripes market is Italy. The US purchased finished marble products from Italy for a value of 333 million euro. This means a 29.8% growth in exports for this product category for Italy.It is interesting to note that in the individual states that make up the US Federation, penetration of the Made in Italy brand, taking into consideration all the production sectors together, is very uneven and in some areas there is ample room for growthHowever, the international demand for stone materials also depends on other important markets apart from the US. The Chinese market, although it has reduced imports, nevertheless continued to import stone materials, especially raw materials, for a value of over 2 billion euro. Altogether, the EU countries imported natural stone for a value of 2.4 billion (value close to USA imports), thereby recording an increase of 5.1% on 2014 (the growth of European demand in 2014 was 0.3% compared to 2013). Finally, worth a mention is the Japanese demand for stone materials. This fell by 3.8 % in 2015 but is expected to increase for the next few years thanks to investment in residential buildings, commercial facilities and projects associated with the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020. It will, however, be difficult to undermine the Chinese leadership in this country which currently meets 94% of demand for ornamental stone.

The report is free and is now available here: