The USA market for natural stone in 2013 - new trends

 Jeffrey Matthews


The kitchen countertop market is continuously increasing its sales of stone. Granite imports have increased during the last year by almost 17%, while imports of marble have increased by about 10%, while all other stones such as basalt, slate, quartzite, porphyry, sandstone are slightly down in the market. Exports of granite and marble are up over 10% from the U.S. Marmomacc of Italy claims Italy processed marble and granite sales during the first quarter of 2013 was up by over 44 % to the U.S. while Europe declined 4.9%.

Green fabrication is driving many fabricators to look at new ways of fabricating stone with energy savings such as using solar photovoltaic systems which produce less costly energy and allow for green products with eco-friendly use. Also demand for water treatment machines to filter and recycle used water in their facilities is increasing in shops and larger companies.
Fabricators are still expanding and buying more equipment for their shops to make them diverse and more efficient, such as 5 axis computerized cutting machines, water-jet, single slab block cutters to cut thick stone, more automated countertop fabricating equipment, and slab finishers automated for one slab at a time to make different textures or just hone or polish a slab.
High end homes are demanding more and more limestone for full cladding, columns, balustrades, cubic carved windows-door entrances-fireplaces and are not affected by any recession. The home sizes are running from 4000 sqm to 7000 sqm, especially in New York and California.
Investors from Europe, China and the Middle East are looking to open new quarries in the U.S. or buy existing ones in limestone and marble. Granite is also being demanded on a smaller scale with the concept of also fabrication facilities on site so as to be able to sell to this large market, and invest in the future as a way to sell their products from their countries in the U.S.
Marble is increasing its use as a countertop material for kitchens. Those distributors or showrooms that are ahead of the game are now showing slabs to clients that are 4, 5, even 6 cm thick and clients are buying them. Thicker is seen as better. Even signage large slabs are being demanded with chiselled edges in 8 cm to 20 cm thickness honed two faces as an example.