In addition to rising energy costs, Italy’s ceramics industry is now also facing a shortage of clay raw material

Modern ceramics are. e.g., large tiles that perfectly imitate other materials.

A memorandum from the association Confindustria Ceramica outlines that the industry is very concerned about losing customers to other materials

The situation for Italy’s ceramics industry is dramatic because some fatal factors are coming together: on the one hand, energy costs have been in constant increase since last year and now this tendency has been reinforced by the war in Ukraine. Even more: the Italian tile manufacturers obtain a large part of the raw clay from there. On April 11, 2022, the Confindustria Ceramica association drafted a “Memorandum“ and distributed it to the press. In essence, it is about the industry not losing customers to other materials. We reproduce the publication in excerpts and link it below.

The memorandum emphasizes that Italy‘s ceramics producers have by no means stopped production, contrary to what could be inferred from press reports: “In almost all cases, however, the production stoppages were limited to the few days in mid-March of peak gas prices and did not result in any interruption in commercial activities.“

Production was maintained below profitability, the memorandum continues. In addition, the “strong domestic and international demand“ could be met from “existing warehouse stocks.“

Now, however, in addition to energy costs, the availability of raw materials is also in question: “The (Russian) invasion of Ukraine has (disrupted) supplies of Ukrainian clays, which account for 25% of all the raw materials used by the Italian ceramic industry. The last ships to dock in the port of Ravenna prior to the outbreak of the conflict provided sufficient raw materials (only) for next weeks.“

The memorandum points out that the sector is “looking for feasible alternatives“: “The Italian companies are therefore doing everything possible to diversify their supply chains, both by increasing the quantities ordered from their existing suppliers elsewhere in Europe and by searching for new sources in other regions.“

In practice, the challenge goes far beyond simply finding new suppliers: “To be able to use raw materials from different sources, it will be necessary to modify the ceramic mixes. This is something that the engineers at Italian ceramic companies are perfectly capable of doing…“ is said and the phase continues with a pledge “…while maintaining the technical qualities for which Italian ceramic products are renowned.“

In conclusion: “With this memorandum, we wish to confirm the Italian ceramic industry’s overriding commitment to serving its domestic and international customers and, despite the current difficulties, to strengthening the relationships it has built up with its partners through many years of joint efforts.“

Confindustria Ceramica

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(15.04.2022, USA: 04.15.2022)