World production and consumption of ceramic tiles. The figures for 2019 and forecasts for 2020

  • In 2019 world ceramic tile production decreased to 12,673 million sqm (-3.7% on 2018); tile consumption also dropped by 4% to 12.4 billion sqm.
  • World import-export flows increased by just 31 million sqm (+1%) to 2.837 million sqm. Further sharp fall in Chinese exports.
  • For 2020 world tile production may experience a further contraction of around 8.5%.

The eighth edition of the publication “World production and consumption of ceramic tiles” produced by MECS / Acimac Research Department is due to be released in October. Consisting of 260 pages of charts, tables and commentary, it provides detailed analysis of the ten-year trends up to 2019 in terms of industry, markets, per capita consumption and export flows in geographical macro-regions and in the 76 largest tile producer, consumer, exporter and importer countries.

The year 2019 saw the second consecutive decline in global tile production and consumption in 20 years of reporting. World ceramic tile production and consumption dropped by 3.7% and 4% to 12.7 and 12.4 billion sqm respectively. This equates to a reduction of half a billion sqm in a year (a billion sqm over the two-year period 2018-19). Clearly the biggest losses were once again incurred by China, which following a 11% decline in 2018 suffered a further 8.7% fall last year. The concurrent growth in production in India (+10.6% to 1,266 million sqm) and Brazil (909 million sqm, +4%) was insufficient to compensate for a loss of this magnitude.

As a consequence, production in Asia contracted by a further 5%, dropping to 8,532 million sqm, equivalent to 67.3% of global production. Production also fell both in the European Union (1,304 million sqm, -2.8%) and in non-EU Europe (570 million sqm, -7.8%), while it remained stable at 1,503 million sqm in the American continent, where the increase in Central and South America (+2.2%, 1,173 million sqm) offset the decline in North America (-4.9%, 330 million sqm).

Growth continued in Africa, where production in 2019 was estimated at around 759 million sqm (+5.7%). Besides Egypt (300 million sqm), and Nigeria (115 million sqm), growth in production continued in sub-Saharan Africa, largely driven by Chinese investments and with outputs of between 10 and 40 million sqm from 2015 onwards.

In 2019, world exports grew by just 31 million sqm compared to 2018 to reach 2,837 million sqm (+1.1%). This figure is a combined result of the contraction in Chinese exports (down by 75 million sqm) and the growth in almost all the other major exporting countries, particularly India (an increase of 86 million sqm). Chinese exports declined in fact for the sixth consecutive year from 854 million sqm to 779 million sqm (-8.8%), while India, with its 360 million sqm of tile exports (a figure that has almost doubled in 3 years, capped by a 31% increase in 2019), has become the third largest exporting country after China and Spain and its tiles are increasingly being chosen as an alternative to Chinese products, both in the USA and elsewhere.

  • Forecasts for 2020
The outlook for 2020 is very different. No country has been left unscathed by the pandemic, although it is still difficult to estimate its real impact on global production systems. Despite this, the survey of the main producing countries and the largest world groups in the sector conducted by ACIMAC/MECS indicates that, assuming there are no further lockdowns, world tile production may experience a contraction of around 8.5% to approximately 11,600 million sqm. This is a more moderate decline than the far more negative forecasts made in May and is attributable to the strong business recovery from June onwards that has been confirmed by the majority of players.

China, which declared a 5.8% decline in production in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019, has fully resumed operations and expects to record a full-year contraction in production of less than 10%. Moreover, around a hundred new lines for the production of large slabs are scheduled to be installed across the country by December. Turkey is more optimistic and on the back of good export results in the first six months of the year aims to maintain the same production volumes as in 2019. Other major producer countries are more sceptical, however, including Brazil, Vietnam, Spain and Mexico, all of which expect to close 2020 with falls in national production of between 10% and 20%.


Read the complete article on Ceramic World Review no. 138

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