United States Dimensional Stone Statistics

by | Oct 4, 1995 | Articles

Interpreted by Jeffrey Matthews of Trade International, Inc. From Data Supplied by the U.S. Department of Interiors Bureau of Mines Feb. 22, 1995

The Dimension Stone Imports Into the United States—Granite

To simplify matters we can look at the totals of imports in the granite industry as that which is rough, stone articles, and worked granite. The statistics sheet attached (Table 7) shows in more detail the statistics in thousands. The attempt here is to be general and to show trends.

 

Brazil

Brazil in 1990 represented only 2.6% of the granite imports whereas in 1993 it represented about 11.9%. This is a marked increase in demand for Brazilian granite. The main reason for this is the shift from commercial to residential granite usage in the United States. Residential demand has increased especially for kitchen countertops. The wavy or movement in the granites from Brazil are well known. The increase in production, new quarries, improved manufacturing, promotional efforts of Brazilian companies and the reasonable pricing for granites from Brazil have all helped the sales of Brazilian granites. Further, the introduction of Brazilian producers having their own warehouses specializing in Brazilian stones has helped to educate buyers, make goods more readily available and priced such that the consumer can purchase the granite. If Brazilian producers keep on introducing more granite and opening more warehouses in the areas demanding granite they shall continue to see growth in the U.S. market.

 

Canada

Canada, which is a country of tremendous potential of quarried granites, and well known for its production of tile, slabs, and cut to size work has been able to maintain its share of the declining granite market. New granites have been introduced as well as new producers. Presently as in 1990 they still have a 13.3% share of the market. In general pricing from Canada has not increased in 5 years thus making what granites they produce still affordable to the U.S. buyers.

 

China

China, a relatively new country in the U.S. granite market, has increased its share from 1990 of 1% to about 2.6%. With the introduction of many granites similar to Spanish granites in color, they have been able to enter the market with very low pricing making purchases most affordable to buyers. They are still somewhat restricted by the lack of available slabs and cut to size work but the tile business for China has increased a lot. Many Chinese companies have entered the market and as expansion into other areas of the U.S. continue and quality controls improve it is predicted that the Chinese share of the market shall also increase.

 

India

India, a world of its own granites, similar to Brazil in that it has granites which show movement and thus are very interesting to buyers of kitchen countertops, they also have the much demanded greens, blacks, as well as the increasing demand for red granite. Many Indian producers or reps have established warehouses across the U.S. market and are promoting heavily the Indian granites which number in the 75 to 100 type category. From 1990 when Indian granite was still relatively new at 5.9% they have grown to a level of 16.5 % in 1993. This is a tremendous growth for India considering they surpassed Spain in this period of time, which was the third largest, and Canada, the second largest exporter to the U.S. market. The number of Indian companies promoting stone in the U.S. market has increased 500 fold. In even the smallest of cities one can find a Indian person selling Indian stone. It is foreseen that the growth of Indian stone and demand shall continue to increase in the 1990’s. This market share can be greatly increased if Indian producers can show the market they can supply quality cut to size work for large commercial building. At present they are still more limited to tiles, slabs, and blocks.

 

Italy

Italy, the number one exporter of granite to the United States is still number one. However, their decline from the level of 61.5% in 1990 to 42.8% in 1993 was foreseen. Since Italy has limited deposits of granite and depends on other countries for its granite, they are restricted to increasing its share as buyers tend to buy more directly from the developing countries. These developing countries, China, Spain, Brazil, South Africa have increased its purchases of machinery, especially Italian machinery, to compete in the world market of stone against the Italians. Still, the Italians are the number one producer of commercial granite and will continue to be so. They have more production, more gang saws, more specialty companies making granite than any other country in the world. When it comes to very large commercial jobs the purchases of granite shall continue to flow to Italy as the main source. They have reduced their costs to such a level that they are still highly competitive in granite production. The Italians in general have made great advances in investments in new quarries all over the world. It is through this investment and tremendous buying power that they will still be able to maintain their market share. It is foreseen however, that their market share shall continue to decline at a slower percentage rate in the balance of the 1990’s. The demand for commercial granite is still not increasing in the U.S. market and it is this demand or increase that will help Italy to maintain or increase its market share. When the demand increases so will Italy’s exports.

 

Spain

Spain, the only other major factor of imports into the U.S. is still in a downturn. In 1990 they were number three in import demand with a market share of 8.7% and in 1993 they dropped to 5.5% with a ranking as fifth largest exporter. The reason is that the main granites of Spain are very commercial. Further, the Spanish producers have made their marketing efforts in other countries to expand their sales. Since commercial markets in Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong have all been on the increase so has demand for Spanish granite. The shame of it is that Spanish producers and especially the multitude of associations in Spain have not formulated a worldwide marketing program to increase their sales. The associations all work independently and none really work with any of the Spanish Trade associations in other countries that their government affords them. Many U.S. buyers are unaware of all the stones available from Spain. Spanish producers have not jumped on bandwagon of opening up their own warehouses, making national sales programs, advertising, and other promotional tools required to sell such a market at the U.S. It is foreseen, assuming the Spanish producers maintain their present direction, when the U.S. market does increase its demand especially for commercial building, Spain will continue to lose its market share in the 1990’s. Whereas prices have generally increased from Spain versus Italy which has generally reduced its prices, it is foreseen that Spanish producers may price themselves out of the U.S. market should the present trends remain unchanged.

 

General:

The total of granite imports in 1990 amounted to about 175 million dollars versus the final numbers in 1993 of 101 million dollars. This is total decline of about 42% in 4 years. This again is due mainly to the lack of demand for commercial building which was foreseen in 1990. The U.S. market had over built in office buildings and government projects enough to last them about 5 years or so. The additional decline in the economy and the political problems of balancing a budget have all fueled the lack of demand for stone. The recent problems of Mexico have also affected the economy of the U.S. market as it will other countries as Mexico was one of the largest trading partners of the U.S. It is interesting to note from the statistics that in general the pricing of granite per ton or per cubic meter has reduced in the last 4 years. This relates to a show of the supply and demand philosophy. With the advent of so many new companies and countries entering the stone market it is only natural that this trend will continue. It is foreseen that small increases in commercial building will continue until about 1997 when more increased demand should start to occur. The U.S. market is still changing and revamping. Companies are consolidating or cutting back making themselves more trim to compete in the global market. Building should start to increase in the later half of this decade. It is not foreseen the growth demand will be like that of the 1980’s decade. It was easy in the 1980’s to sell stone as the demand was greater than the availability. This is history and now the reality of the stone market is here. Suppliers will have to work hard for their market share but the potential is still great since the U.S. market still remains one the largest potential markets in the world.