StatWatch: Stone Imports, June 2008

Information on U.S. stone imports becomes available a few months after the fact; right now, June marks the latest data available. Some in-depth analysis of stone imports at mid-year will be available in the October 2008 Stone Business (and you can sign up for a free subscription here), but an overview of June figures offer some interesting insights.

Stone-import information offers one of the few ways to gauge the health of the U.S. dimensional-stone industry. Depending on the expert you happen to talk to, imports make up 80 percent to 90 percent-plus of stone usage for interior and non-hardscape exterior installations.

The following is courtesy of the U.S. Commerce Department and International Trade Commission. All figures give are for June 2008 (along with a comparison with June 2007 data). “Worked” stone is material that’s been shorn from boulders and blocks, and then cut in standard dimensional measures (such as slabs and tiles) and polished.

Worked Granite Value

Total: $104,915,156 (-21.63%)

Sector leader: Brazil @ $35,104,341 (-28.73%)

Backfill: June turned out to be one of the lesser months of first-half 2008 for worked-granite value. All major players showed declines of 20% or better, except for China’s -12.72%.

Worked Granite Volume

Total: 171,366 metric tons (-20.10%)

Sector leader: China @ 68,320 metric tons (+71.07%)

Backfill: China’s export push in tonnage made it one of granite’s few highlights so far in 2008. Brazil’s June shipments to the United States in June fell by one-third from the same time last year.

Worked Marble Value

Total: $26,277,019 (-5.32%)

Sector leader: Italy @ $12,608,763 (+20.53%)

Backfill: Turkey showed a 26.68% gain in June. China showed an overall gain in first-half 2008, while Spain’s U.S. deliveries fell by 25%.

Worked Marble Volume

Total: 20,487 metric tons (-22.54%)

Sector leader: Italy @ 5,957 metric tons (-1.03%)

Backfill: Italy maintains its dominance in U.S. marble deliveries while maintaining premium prices. China continues to mount a strong challenge, but at low per-ton cost.

Travertine Value

Total amount: $34,664,911 (-26.31%)

Sector leader: Turkey @ $21,597,957 (-25.86%)

Backfill: Turkey continues its dominance. Peru showed overall first-half 2008 strength, although values are less than a tenth of Turkey’s.

Travertine Volume

Total: 83,423 metric tons (+12.47%)

Sector leader: Turkey @ 67,520 metric tons (+25.62 %)

Backfill: Turkey basically owns the U.S. market in sheer tonnage. The big mover among the rest is the United Arab Emirates, growing its June imports by more than 400%.

Slate Value

Total: $8,113,735 (-20.87%)

Sector leader: China @ $3,553,742 (-23.96%)

Backfill: India is a close second at $3.07 million, but saw its U.S. business decline by 17.48%.

Other Calcereous Value

Total: $17,554,212 (-14.86%)

Sector leader: Italy @ $3,066,929 (+14.11%)

Backfill: In this primarily limestone category, Lebanon showed the largest June growth at 39.47%.

Other Stone Value

Total: $21,916,526 (-9.57%)

Sector leader: Brazil, $5,311,865 (-10.50%)

Backfill: Among the leading countries in this catch-all category, Canada posted the only June gain at 7.45%.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at www.stonebusiness.net, where you can also find this blog at the top of the home page under the clever title of “Editor’s Blog.

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