(January 2011) China has developed not only to one of the biggest producers of natural stone in recent years, but also to one of the most important importers of raw blocks. An Italian analysis now reveals the secrets behind this phenomenon. The Cararra-based Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM) has examined what portion of the raw blocks stemming from the region remain there and what portion is processed there and later sold elsewhere (Italian).
Findings: 70% of the 200,000 t raw blocks produced in the Carrara region in 2009 and exported to China (valued at 37.3 million €) remained there. They were used mainly for flooring and interior wall cladding. Only a small portion was implemented in exteriors and for works of art, according to the study.
However: 30% of the blocks delivered to China were only processed there for added value – delivered to „bordering regions“ such as South Korea after sawing and/or polishing. But some consumers were more remote, i.e. North America or the Near Eastern Regions – the quota remaining „far“ behind that of direct sales.
It should be mentioned that ready-worked marble was also exported to China, albeit in a diminished margin of 10,000 t (valued at 3 million €).
Most popular for Chinese exports is the Bianco Gioia according to the study. It is considered the best known variety of Carrara marble.
XXI Report Word Marble and Stones
Dr. Carlo Montani’s statistical year-book also quotes figures pertaining to the Chinese market. The current edition under the name of „XXI Report World Marble and Stones“ states that China has expanded its role as a rising power. 2009 saw China’s piece of the global quarry extraction at 29.7% followed by India (12.6%) Turkey (8.1%), Italy (7.2%) followed by Iran (6.5%), Brazil (5.7%) and Spain (5.0%).
China’s export market was strong with negative growth reaching a mere -0.5% compared to the year prior, seeing a general strong positioning with respect to the European and US-markets and a monopoly concerning South Korea and Japan.
The quota of raw blocks exported from China was negligible.
Figures show once again that China has replaced Italy as a leading processor of raw material. An important distinction should, however, be noted: Italian stone industry’s distinguishing factor for many years lay not in the low labour costs but in its cutting edge regarding technology and marketing.
„Made for China“
Dutch-based trendwatching.com sees one of the most important economic trends for the coming years in the production of goods dedicated particularly for the Chinese markets. „Made for China“ is a buzz-word for 2011.
Already brands the likes of Levi’s, Hermès, Dior and BMW are producing collections for China. Honda, Nissan or GM are said to be busy introducing low-cost versions of their products.
It is not mentioned where the production sites are situated.