The Freedonia Group, a market research firm, says that the market for refractory products generally will enjoy strong, steady growth over the next three years, especially in the Asia region and particularly in regard to China. A new study available from Freedonia says demand will grow on average 5.3 percent each year through 2014 and eventually will amount to nearly 41 million metric tons per year in sales. As far as products go, the 371-page study says monolithics will outperform bricks and shapes.
According to Freedonia, consumption of refractory products by China and India will be above average, but even U.S. and European markets are projected to do significantly better than in the 2004-2009 period when consumption fell at annual rates of approximately 5 percent.
In a news release, the company notes that, “Suppliers will benefit from an improvement in the key U.S. market, which will rebound from dismal levels in 2009.”
But, Freedonia also warns that U.S. and European refractory manufacturers could get squeezed by the raw material prices, suggesting that, “Raw material supply will continue to be a challenge to refractory producers.”
Despite a miniboom in U.S. steel production in the mid- and late-2000s, refractory producers complained because they often had to pay premium prices for bauxite and other key materials, plus they faced tough sales negotiations with metal-making companies.
Demand in all markets will still be driven by steel and iron production, according to the study. “Despite declines in the amount of units needed per ton of steel produced, iron and steel will have the strongest gains of any market through 2014 due to rising steel production,” says the company.
Freedonia also expects increased demand for refractory products from aluminum producers as wells as from nonmetallic mineral products markets, such as ceramics, cement and other mineral products, as well as demand from including petroleum, chemicals, paper and aerospace applications.
Freedonia’s optimism about monolithics is because of the growing use of these products to extend the interval between brick relinings of ovens, ladles and other high-temperature uses.
Change in World Factory Demand:
|000 metric tons||000 metric tons||000 metric tons||% Change||% Change|
|Refractory Demand||25,665||31,500||40,700||+ 4.2||+ 5.3|
|North America||3,305||2,445||3,150||– 5.9||+ 5.8|
|Western Europe||3,550||2,725||3,240||– 5.2||+ 3.5|
|Asia/Pacific||13,350||21,340||21,340||+ 9.8||+ 5.5|
|Other Regions||5,460||4,990||6,460||– 1.8||+ 5.3|
Freedonia’s full report is available for $5,900 from The Freedonia Group, Inc., 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, OH 44143-2326, through the company’s website or call 440-684-9600.