The companies there and around the world were able to adapt spontaneously to the fact that natural stone is regarded by the public as a crisis-proof value investment
The stone industry worldwide has more than weathered Covid-19. This is also confirmed by the figures of the Italian natural stone association Confindustria Marmomacchine: according to this, Italy’s export companies compensated for the negative balance of the Covid year 2020 (-17.3% compared to 2019) with a strong increase: in 2021 compared to 2020, +20.08% was achieved. This amounted to a total of €1.8504 billion.
However, this only returned to pre-pandemic levels: compared to 2019, the last year before Covid, there was a moderate growth of +1.9%.
However, one must compare this figure with the results of other parts of the world economy. For example, for the tourism or entertainment industries, the pandemic was simply a disaster, and the difficulties of these industries currently continue because companies have lost skilled workers.
The management of natural stone companies worldwide, on the other hand, coped well with the pandemic. At the core of this was the quick turn to domestic materials when it became apparent that private citizens were creating an unexpected demand for natural stone by investing in their houses and apartments.
This turn to domestic materials was necessary because supply chains from Asia had been disrupted.
The pandemic also proved that ornamental stone can be labeled as a “crisis-proof investment.“ The increase in private demand during the pandemic has shown that the consumer sees stone indeed as financially reliable, comparable only to precious metals.
However, this brings us back to Italy: within this overall positive global picture, Italy by no means emerges from the pandemic as the shining winner compared to the other major players.
At present – at least quantitatively – the role of the Radiant Winner is more likely to belong to Turkey and also Brazil: they were able to use the crisis to significantly expand their shares in the world market for natural stones.
China was again a special case because it suffered very much from transport problems.
We have linked our reports on the export statistics of these countries for 2021 below.
A positive aspect of Italy’s figures is that it was able to significantly strengthen its role in the end products market. In the USA, it achieved an increase of +30.6% in this market segment in 2021 (€407.8 million in total). In 2020 there had been -14.4%.
Further, the statistics of Confindustria Mamomacchine state: “Sales of Italian stone slabs and finished products were very good in Europe, too, mainly to Germany (+15.3%, the number two buyer with 153.5 million €), Switzerland (+10.4%, in third place with 95.5 million €), France (+6%, fourth with 78.4 million €), the United Kingdom (+34.5%, fifth with 63 million €) and Austria (+23.5%, seventh with 43.7 million €).
“Looking at the Persian Gulf area, traditionally a reference market for Italian stone materials, there was a downturn in sales to Saudi Arabia (-10.2%, sixth place with 51.6 million €) and Qatar (-6.5%, ninth with 36.5 million €) – moreover two of the very few countries showing growth in 2020 – nevertheless offset by a sturdy increase in exports to the United Arab Emirates (+39.7%, eighth place with 41.1 million €). Concluding the top ten markets was Australia, whose purchases of finished stone goods Made in Italy grew by more than 50%, reaching a worth of 32.1 million €.“
A negative aspect of the figures, however, is the high share of raw blocks in exports.
This applies above all to deliveries to China. Like all other export nations, Italy was unable to establish itself here with end products.
In comparison with other industries, however, it can be seen here that their ceramic industry was able to gain a foothold in China.
Now, however, Italy’s natural stone industry seems to be trying a new start there: In cooperation with the national export organization, there will be a campaign to promote the country’s products abroad. One of the target countries is China. “Marble Carving the Future“ is the campaign name.
Export Statistics 2021:
(25.09.2022, USA: 09.25.2022)