The export statistics for natural stone to USA during 2014 reveal a disturbing trend when analysed in some detail. During the 2014 the US economy had already more or less recovered from the severe financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 and, for many businessmen in the industry it was almost back to normal. Anecdotal evidence suggests most of the wholesalers were seeing growth in their business, on average, to the extent of 20%, though the figure quoted offhand obviously varied from person to person and company to company. But the statistics for natural stone, as can be seen in the tables below, show almost no growth in imports. Total US imports including all types of natural stone in 2014 were US$ 2.13 billions, while for 2013 the number was US$ 2.04 billion. So where are the distribution networks in USA and the fabricators getting their growth in business from? The answer lies in artificial stone, as they themselves will tell you.
NATURAL STONE IMPORTS U.S.A.
In granite total exports from rest of the world to USA increased by a very modest 3%, from a total of US$1.23 billion to US$ 1.26 billion. Brazil is the biggest supplier country by far, with a market share of 50% of all semi processed and processed granite to USA. Brazilian exports showed some modest growth, increasing from US$ 604 million in 2013 to US$ 638 million in 2014. Spain´s granite exports to USA in 2014 show an impressive growth of 33% compared to 2013, but they start from a relatively low basic figure. The small decline of exports from China probably had something to do with a relatively stronger yuan. India´s exports showed a modest increase, from US$ 156 million in 2013 to US$ 170 million in 2014. Italy´s exports actually declined, from US$ 140 million in 2013 to US$ 128 million, suggesting a continuing loss of competitiveness of the Italian granite industry.
In marble, there is greater fragmentation in terms of supplying countries to the US market. The biggest market share is of Turkey which exports 39% of all semiprocessed and processed marble to USA. In marble exports from Italy to USA increased by around 7.6% in 2014 over 2013 (the huge popularity of Calacata, perhaps?), and so did export from China, which increased from US$ 123 million in 2013 to US$139 million in 2014, a surprising development that suggests that, perhaps, it was not the stronger yuan which was affecting business. Overall, marble exports to USA increased by 6.8% in 2014 compared to previous year.
EXPORTS TO U.S.A.: MARBLE
In summary, the natural stone industry is clearly being affected by the growing popularity of artificial stone, though the available statistics still do not reveal this trend in a serious way. 2015 may reveal more aspects on this and other relevant factors.