«International trade of stone products in the year 2014 reached a value of 22.8 billion euro, an increase compared to 2013 of 1.8% and a total quantity handled of about 86 million tons (+7.4% compared to 2013)». The Annual Report and Prospects for the International Stone Trade 2015 by Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM) provides some positive statistics about the natural stone industry.
The first signs of a recovery were seen on the European market: in 2014, the countries of the European Union imported stone materials from the rest of the world for a total value of 2.3 billion euro, a slight increase of 0.3% compared to 2013. According to the report, «the years of crisis since 2008 to date have led the stone industry to rethink itself, requiring new sales strategies». In this case, European demand is increasingly oriented toward sustainability and sensitive to issues related to respect for the environment and work safe.
INNOVATION IN SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS
In order to remain competitive, the report emphasizes that natural stone companies should introduce innovations in green architecture, developing high-quality and sustainable products. In some countries of Northern Europe, including the Netherlands, companies and trade associations in the natural stone industry have come together with social organisations and public authorities to develop a common approach to company responsibility.
For example, the Working group in Sustainable Natural Stone advanced, in 2007, A code of conduct for the natural stone sector including all issues realted to the activities of extraction and processing natural stone products: water recycling, emissions, recovery of quarries, efficiency and biodiversity protection.
CHINA LEADS THE STONE MARKET
The first country in terms of the demand for imports was China, which imported 14.7 million tons of stone materials. The second largest market was USA that, in 2014, imported stone materials for a total value of almost 2 billion euro.
China remains the major player in the stone industry, the first country for imports and exports of stone materials with a turnover for the year 2014 of 6.8 billion euro.
In conclusion, according to data, the trend in the natural stone industry is the production of finished products with a higher added value, eco-sustainable and a low environmental impact throughout the entire life cycle of products.
Download the Stone Sector 2015 report.