According to a press release from Tile Edizioni, 2009 marked the first year in the tile production sector’s history that production fell.

Although Asia’s share of the production and consumption markets continues to grow, Europe and the Americas have experienced a sharp downturn in imports and exports.

According to data collected in a survey conducted by the magazine Ceramic World Review (published by Tile Edizioni), world tile output dropped to 8,515 million m2, 0.1 percent down from 8,520 million m2 in 2008. This compares unfavorably to average annual increases that were 6 to 7 percent in the period 2004-2007 and a 3.2 percent increase in 2008.

While Asia’s market share is growing and is now at 65.1 percent of world production, the opposite trend occurred in the Americas and  Europe, which experienced a decrease of 24.8 percent since 2008 (equivalent to a drop of 354 million m2) bringing production to 1,076 million m2.

Total tile consumption grew by just 1.3 percent, compared to 3.6 percent growth in 2008 and an average 8 percent growth during the previous years. The breakdown in consumption by geographical area mimics that of production. Asia showed the highest growth in demand at 8.2 percent.

Growth was reported in Africa (10 percent) and in Central and South America (1 percent). In North America demand dropped 10.9 percent. In the European Union, demand plummeted 18.8 percent, with the biggest biggest drop in Spain.

But export trends were the worst hit by the world crisis. Imports/exports, which had already slowed sharply in 2007 (2.4 percent) and in 2008 (0.47 percent), dropped by 9.6 percent in 2009. The only exception was Asia, although its exports grew by a much smaller amount than in the past.

Exports from the European Union fell 19.3 percent, and non-EU Europe experienced a 25 percent drop. Central and South America exports fell 20.7 percent, North America fell 16.4 percent, and Africa  dropped 8.3 percent. Asia saw the only increase, up 5.8 percent.