The ceramic tile industry, a
primary consumer of industrial minerals, produced
8,495m.m2 in 2008 (see Ceramic tiles at a
glance). Depending principally on the construction
industry, it comes as no surprise that it was severely impacted
by the financial crisis. As a consequence, the last two years
have been quite difficult for the industry, 2008 being the
first real slowdown in the world tile industry after the golden
times of late 90s and early 2000s.
Global exports data are revealing.
In 2008, ceramic tile world exports grew by just 0.47%, a
worrying figure for the industry compared to the +8% of the
The year 2009 did not show much
improvement either. It was the worst year in the history
of the ceramic industry, Pietro Cassani, chairman of the
Association of Italian Manufacturers of Machinery and Equipment
for Ceramics (Acimac), described to IM
(see interview p.36).
The current economic crisis
has had a significant impact on the ceramic tile industry.
Production levels and sales figures in dominant manufacturing
countries such as China, Italy and Spain have been influenced
by the financial crisis and the downturn in the property
markets, predominantly in the USA, Spain and the UK where the
effects of the downturn made such an impression, David
Portals Maans from Ascer said.
As Zeynep Bodur Okyay, president of
Kale Group and of the Turkish Ceramic Federation, explained to
IM, the ceramics industry in Europe fell down.
Spain was the leading ceramics country in this fall, sales in
Italy decreased a lot and Turkey was therefore affected from
the situation, the European countries being its main target
markets. In some countries, the decrease of ceramics
output during the last two years reached up to 40%. The
position of Turkey was not so drastic but we also lost some
20-25 % of our production, she said.
One of the new trends is that North
African and Middle East countries may become important
suppliers of European countries who want to substitute their
manufacturing position in the near future owing to low cost of
labour and energy resources.
Italy, the worlds third
largest producer and second largest exporter, saw an 8.3% fall
in production to 512.5m.m2. Like all advanced
economies, Italy has been badly affected by the downturn,
Acimacs chairman Pietro Cassani explained to
Italian ceramic manufacturers
exporting around 70% of their output to the main world markets,
principally the USA, have seen their production fall
considerably since the beginning of the financial crisis. Total
sales of ceramic tile dropped by 7.7% in 2008 from 547 to
506m.m2 of which 151m.m2 were sold in
Italy and 355m.m2 were exported, a 6.4% drop
compared to 2007.
However, the Italian
producers role as the world trend-setter has been
unaffected, as has the high technical quality of their products
due to the strength and vitality of a national industry that is
ready to take on the new challenges posed by the changed
international situation, Cassani said.
According to Acimac, the fall in
exports is mainly attributable to the dramatic decrease in
sales in the USA (-26%) and Europe, particularly Germany
(-8.2%), France (-3.4%), Latvia (-36.8%), Ireland (-34.7%),
Estonia (-23.7%), Spain (-22.9%) and the UK (-17.1%).
By contrast, sales increased in the
rest of Europe such as in Portugal (+62.2%), Poland (+22.9),
Slovakia (+13.2%), and Russia (+3.9%) in addition to Asia
(+7.9%) and Africa (+7.4%).
The 3.1% increase in average
selling price in addition to the combined result of a 2.1%
increase in Italy and a 3.3% increase abroad helped to
limit the fall in turnover to -4.6% compared to 2007
explained the Italian organisation.
Spanish sales 29%
Spain, the worlds fourth
largest ceramic tile manufacturer and the third exporter, saw
the biggest drop in production (-15.3%) in 2008 among the top
15 producers (see World top 15 ceramic tile
manufacturers). According to Ascer, the industry accounts
for 1.2% of total exports. Spain also accounts for 38% of total
ceramic tile production in the EU-27 countries, 16.2% of global
output being exported. Spains main export markets are
Europe (62%), the Middle East, North America (5.6%), South East
Asia (3.1%), Central America (1.9%) and South America
Acimac reported that in 2008,
Spains increase in average export selling price from
Û6.9/m.m2 to Û7.23/m.m2
limited the fall in export turnover to -3.7%, corresponding to
a total of Û2,200m. The fall in sales concerned almost
all the main foreign markets but was most significant in the
USA with a drop from 19.8 to 11.4m.m2.
Exports increased to Russia,
Albania and some countries in the Middle East (UAE, Kuwait,
Jordan) and Africa (Nigeria, Morocco and Algeria). Spains
exports outside Europe remain high, 43% of total exports by
volume and 33% by value.
The Spanish industry continued to
suffer in 2009 as total sales in the Spanish ceramic tile
industry reached Û2,600m., 29% less than the previous
year according to Ascer.
However, the Spanish industry is on
the way to recovery. As underlined to IM
Maans from Ascer, Spanish tile manufacturers have
seen an increase in sales figures in Q1 2010, most notably in
the export market. Key construction projects that were
put on hold due to the international economic crisis are now
starting to go ahead which is providing room for growth and a
more positive outlook for the industry, he added.
In spite of the further 22.6% fall
in imports in 2008, the USA remained the largest ceramic tile
importer in 2008. The fall in imports is a direct
consequence of the virtually identical decrease in domestic
demand from 248 to 197m.m2 (-20.6%), which also
pushed down national production to 45m.m2
(-10.7%), analysed Acimac.
All the leading exporter countries
to the USA except Columbia and Peru - have suffered
losses. According to the US Dept. of Commerce, the rankings of
the main exporters to the USA changed in 2008. Mexico is now at
the first place by volume, followed by Italy and China with
28.7m.m2 (-11.9% compared to 2007).
However, the situation is
rather different if we consider the value (FOB) of
exports, pointed out Acimac. With an average selling
price up from $14.7 to $16.1/m2 (+9.7%), Italy
remains firmly in top position with sales of $578m., followed
by Mexico with $254.5m. (average price $6.53/m.m2)
and China with 160m. (average price $5.57/m.m2).
Without surprise, China is by far
the worlds largest ceramic tile producer, exporter and
consumer (see table p.39). According to Acimac,
estimated production in 2008 was about 3,400m.m2 but
this figure could reach up to 5,700m. m2 according
to other sources. China has abundant raw materials, low
labour costs and good technologies created by their research
and development activities, explained Bodur to
Since 2008, the countrys
production continued to methodically grow at a regular pace.
The China Ceramics Industry Association reported that
production increased by 22% during the first eight months of
2008 compared to the year before. Between January and September
the same year, exports increased by 21.7% compared to same time
in 2007, reaching 517m.m2.
However, growth was slowed from
October 2008. Chinese ceramic tile exports were lightly
affected as the downturn dramatically impacted Chinas
main customer: Europe and the USA.
The USA is one of the very few
markets where China lost ground in 2008: -8% in volumes
(27.6m.m2) but +12.6% in value ($129m.) thanks to
the increase in average price from $3.82 to
China mainly exports to Asia but
new markets are emerging such as Africa, which is
becoming an increasingly important destination with Nigeria and
Ghana amongst the leaders as explained Acimac.
Another major change is the
increase of the market in the Middle East. Acimac reported that
sales in Chinas two largest foreign markets have once
again increased sharply: Saudi Arabia (+51% on 2007 to a total
of 56.7m.m2) and the UAE (+24%, 41.2m.m2)
(see Asia & Middle East potential).
India, the worlds fifth
largest producer and third largest consumer, has survived
relatively well as both production (390m.m2) and
domestic demand (403m.m2) remained practically
stable in 2008 compared to the year before.
The Indian economy has picked
up and is booming. As a result, building construction
activities have substantially increased, Gaurang Singhal
from Wolkem India Ltd explained to IM.
government is taking up projects of modernising airports,
railway stations, school construction etc. and millions of
dollars are being spent on these projects therefore
boosting the ceramics industry, added the director of
Indias largest wollastonite producer, one of the main
minerals used in ceramic tiles (see Ceramic tile
India mainly buys material from
China but the country is neither a big exporter nor importer
(respectively 11m.m2 and 24m.m2), which
would explain why the Indian industry remained so stable during
According to P.N. Trivedi, chairman
of the Indian Council of Ceramic Tiles and Sanitaryware
(ICCTAS), some 25-30 new production units are due to start up
within a year in the Morbi area in Gujarat state. Added to the
positive signs of recovery from the economy, this is expected
to bring a 12-15% growth in production and domestic demand in
As a consequence, Wolkem has
decided to develop projects especially for the ceramic
industry. The company has revealed to IM that
it will start mining feldspar in its two existing wollastonite
and calcite mines in Rajasthan, initially targeting 50,000 tpa
to supply the Indian ceramic industry.
In addition, Wolkem is
substantially enhancing its production capacity for both
wollastonite and calcite: a 25% increase in wollastonite
capacity at Sirohi Road, Rajasthan and about 15% increase in
total minerals capacity, combining all our four calcite
grinding plants, in Sirohi-Rajasthan, Tirunelvelli-Tamil Nadu,
Vishakapatnam-Andhra Pradesh and Poanta Sahab- Himachal
Middle East & Asia
At present, the ceramic tile
industry is witnessing an era of unprecedented growth across
the Middle East and Asia where manufacturers are looking for
better quality and cost efficiency to remain competitive.
China and India, the two big
players in Asia, are being followed by a group of countries
with a rapidly expanding ceramic industry. Iran, Indonesia,
Vietnam and Malaysia, which have limited imports, climbed into
the top 15 world tile producers to reach 6th,
7th and 15th positions respectively in
2008 according to Acimac.
The factor shared by all
these countries is an increase in production in response to
growing domestic demand, although not sufficient to avoid
production surpluses of 23-30m.m2 in all countries
with the sole exception of Indonesia, reported the
Iran and Indonesia have become the
4th and 5th largest world consumers with
demand of 265m.m2 and 262m.m2
respectively; Vietnam ranks at the 7th position with
a consumption of 220m.m2. All four countries feature
amongst the worlds top 15 exporters, with exports ranging
between 23m.m2 for Malaysia and 27m.m22
for Iran and Indonesia.
The regional drive to develop
schools, hospitals and affordable housing is expected to
provide the strongest opportunities in construction,
particularly Saudi Arabia which became one of the top importing
countries, ranking third in 2008 (IM December 2009: Saudi
ceramics eye construction boom). The country has doubled
its production since 2004.
The ceramic tile imports of the
country increased from 77m.m2 in 2007 to
99m.m2. According to Acimac, this increase is
almost entirely attributable to Chinese exports - Saudi
Arabia being Chinas major export market - which reached
56m.m2, a figure that is confirmed by local
The second largest exporter to
Saudi Arabia is Spain with 16.8m.m2 in 2008 and in
turn, Saudi Arabia is Spains second largest export market
after France. Italy is also well represented in the country
with exports up in 2008 from 6 to 6.8m.m2.
As a consequence, the anticipation
of ceramics market growth has prompted leading companies to
develop new and expand existing plants. Saudi Ceramic Co. (SCC)
is increasing the production capacity of its tile,
sanitaryware, and frits, and introducing new ceramic products.
At the same time, the Riyadh-based company is also expanding
its dry grinding plant and planning to launch a mining company
(IM 28 October 2009: Saudi Ceramics expands
In Dammam, new Saudi ceramics
producer, Future Ceramics and Porcelain Co. which planned to
bring its new plant on stream in three stages, is targeting an
annual production capacity of 13m.m2 ceramic tiles
The plant has been developed at a
cost of SAR380m.($101.3m.) and is wholly Saudi owned, with
technical co-operation from four Italian ceramic companies,
including Sacmi (supplying kilns, presses, and spray driers)
and Technoferrari (handling equipment).
Another major supplier is the UAE,
from where RAK group is the third world top ceramic tiles
producer (see World top 15 ceramic tiles
manufacturers). The local ceramic industry is also growing
and the largest producer, Saudi Ceramics, has increased
production from 21 to 28.6m.m2 through an expansion
in production capacity to 32m.m2/year.
Turkey falls back 3
Turkey, the world ninth largest
ceramic tiles producer and the fourth exporter, has been
impacted by the crisis, seeing its production, consumption and
exports respectively dropping by 13.5%, 19.4% and 11.5%. in
2008 in response to a sharp fall in sales in the domestic
market according to Acimac data. The Turkish ceramics
market fell back to three years before, Bodur highlighted
However, the value of exports on
the other hand increased by 8% to $525.4m. owing to an
increase in average selling price from $4.7 to
Turkey has around 30 players
in the tile business with 360m.m2 of installed
capacity and around 40 players in the sanitaryware business
with 21m. pieces production capacity. Last year we were able to
use not more than 70% of our installed capacities, Bodur
said. Kale, Vitra, Toprak, Yurtbay, Hitit, Serel, Creavit,
Seranit are among the most important producers of tiles and
sanitaryware in Turkey.
The country is well placed to
secure an advantage in the industry when conditions for
ceramics improve. Its healthy trade relationship with the
worlds growing economics, plus its key location
straddling the markets of East and West, may determine how well
Turkeys ceramics exports perform in the short to medium
The Turkish Ceramics Federation
estimates that production figures will remain stable for 2009
at 2008 levels. But even though domestic sales are expected to
recover (+10.4%), exports are likely to continue to fall (-7.6%
by volume and -2.9% in value) in spite of a further increase in
average price to $6/m2.
Brazil is the worlds second
largest ceramic tiles producer and consumer and the fifth
largest exporter. According to Acimac data, production has
increased steadily for more than 20 years to reach
713.4m.m2 in 2008, driven by 13.2% growth in
domestic consumption to 605.4m.m2. In 2008,
consumption increased by 13.2% owing to the dramatic
development of Brazils construction during the last year.
Also, the perspective of the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2014
FIFA football World cup in addition to the government plans for
construction will certainly boost the growth (IM January
2010, p.24: Brazils rise to recovery).
However, exports on the other hand
have continued to fall regularly every year since 2004 ,
dropping by 20% in 2008. Of this 21m.m2 fall,
11m.m2 was due to the USA, down to
15.3m.m2 (-41%). The Brazilian Association of
Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Anfacers 2009 forecasts
suggest a further slight growth in consumption (+2%) and a
slowdown in production (1.4%), while exports may recover in
value by 5%.
Brazil is one of the worlds
largest kaolin producer Ð one of the main raw material used
in ceramic tiles Ð but it is mainly used in paper
applications, even though limited volumes are used in other
industries such as ceramics (IM February 2010, p. 50:
Brazils eyes minerals future)
After a year described at one of
the worst ever, it is expected that the ceramic tile market
will start to recover and even increase in the coming
years. One of the driving factors is that the
construction industry should restart this year, therefore
hauling related industries such as ceramic tile through
recovery. The ceramic tile market has a strong
correlation with the building industry, so it is expected that
sales will show an increase as the housing market starts to
recover. It is predicted that sales will slowly increase
towards the end of 2010 and that signs of more substantial
growth will be seen towards 2011, Ascers
Maans forecasted to IM.
Acimac also reports a
moderately positive forecast for 2010. The Italian
organisation pointed out encouraging if unconfirmed
signs from several foreign markets, particularly North Africa,
Turkey and South America, where Brazil, one of the worlds
largest manufacturing countries, appears to have resumed
This speed of healing will
obviously vary depending on the regions. As no surprise, Asia
is supposed to lead the way to healthier days with the Indian
ceramic market forecasted to grow at the rate of 5% to 10% in
the next five years.
China is also expected to continue
its unstoppable growth. But as Bodur underlined to
IM, it is a threat for the world
production. They have a strong construction
industry mainly for housing. They are using most of their
output locally. If their building industry fails it will be a
catastrophe for the world ceramics industry, she
In Europe and the USA, it is more
likely that the recovery will be exhaustive and slow in 2010.
The European market is expected to remain highly stagnant
and continues to cause serious concern, confirmed
Italy will always lead the industry and Turkey will
follow new trends and technologies with strong brand names,
service and quality of her industry, forecasted Okyay,
hoping that Spain should recover soon and take its share
in world production.
Ceramic tiles at a glance
World production (2008): 8,495m. m2
World consumption (2008): 8,263m. m2
Main producers: China (40%), Brazil
(8.4%), Italy (6%), Spain (5.8%), India (4.6%)
Main consumers: China
(34.2%), Brazil (7.3%), India (4.9%), Iran (3.2%), Indonesia
China (34.2%), Brazil (7.3%), India (4.9%), Iran (3.2%),
Main minerals: Clays, kaolin, feldspar,
zircon, talc, wollastonite, silica (see table
World manufacturing areas (% 2008)
* Turkey included ** Mexico included
2009 was the worst year in the history of the
Pietro Cassani, Acimacs chairman, talked to IM
about the severe impact of the financial crisis on the ceramic
What was the recessions impact?
The severe economic and financial crisis in most
world markets has naturally impacted the ceramic sector due to
its close links with building, one o f the industries worst
affected by the downturn. The year 2009 was the worst year in
the history of the ceramic industry and the quantities produced
worldwide may have fallen slightly for the first time ever.
Among the large producer countries which make a significant
contribution to variations in world production, China, Brazil,
India and Iran maintained or slightly increased their
production compared to 2008 whereas all the others suffered a
fall in output. The two historic producer countries, Italy and
Spain, have seen their output almost halved in the last two
years to reach levels of 360m.m2 and
What are the opportunities for the industry?
Innovation will play a crucial role in bringing this
sector out of recession. Present production technologies allow
for new and alternative uses of ceramics. Examples include the
use of large ceramic tiles on external curtain walls, ceramic
sheets with thicknesses as small as 3mm that can be laid over
existing tiled floors without the need to remove them, use for
covering tables, kitchen tops and furnishing applications in
general, as well as other applications that would previously
have been unimaginable for this material.
Which are the most promising regions?
For several years now, the increases in production and
consumption have been concentrated in Asia, which is largely
responsible for the rapid growth in world population and is
consequently experiencing a building boom. In recent months, we
have seen signs of recovery in North Africa, the Arab countries
and Latin America.
What about Italy?
Like all advanced economies, Italy has been badly
affected by the downturn. Production has fallen considerably,
largely due to the high export propensity of the Italian tile
producers. (Italian ceramic manufacturers export around 70% of
their output to the main world markets, principally the
However, the Italian producers role as the world
trend-setter has been unaffected, as has the high technical
quality of their products due to the strength and vitality of a
national industry that is ready to take on the new challenges
posed by the changed international situation.
What about finding raw material?
Clay, the principal raw material shared by all
ceramic materials, is a common mineral found more or less
everywhere in the world. With a good level of technology, it is
possible to produce medium quality tiles just about anywhere.
As a result of advances in technology and aesthetics in the
field of ceramic production, ceramic bodies especially in
the case of tiles have been considerably improved. Particularly
with the advent of porcelain tile, ceramic bodies have been
enriched with white clays, mainly from the Ukraine, which offer
superior physical and chemical characteristics.
Ceramic tile minerals
||Used to provide strength and plasticity
||Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Czech Republic,
France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, Thailand,
Turkey, UK, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam
||Good casting properties
||7m. tpa (high quality, processed); 15m. tpa (low
||Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Czech Republic,
France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Portugal,
Spain, Thailand, Turkey Uk, Ukraine, USA
||Flux, filler - Remaining bulk ingredients; depends on
the type of tile
||Italy, Turkey, China, Thailand
||Source of CaO which helps form calcium silicate
||> 100m. tpa, but ceramic consumption is not
||Provides stability, strength and hardness to the
||> 120m. tpa
||Increases thermal shock and electrical
||8.6m. tpa, of which about 2.8m. tpa used in
||China, Finland, France, India, USA
||Enhance the tile body properties
||650,000 tpa; estimated 200,000 tpa for ceramics
||China, India, USA, Mexico, Spain, Finland
|Silica, potassium, sodium, boron, alumina
||Frits, glazes - More complicated as these are often
||Boron: 4.5m. tpa (excluding US production)
|Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, South Africa,
Turkey, USA (boron)
||Glazes - Opacifier
||Australia, South Africa, Ukraine, Brazil, India,
||Glazes - Matte and satin effects
||11.1m. tpa (zinc)
||Australia, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Kazakhstan,
Mexico, Peru, USA
||Glazes - Colour, design
Top ceramic tile manufacturing countries
* Red: Decrease between 2008/07; Green: increase between
2008/07; Black: no variation for 2008/07
Top 15 ceramic tile manufacturers
||Production (m.m2 2008)
||Italy, Spain, France, Russia and the USA.
||14 in Bangladesh, Sudan, China, India, Iran.
|SCG Siam Cement Group
||18, including 1 in Indonesia.
|New Zhong Yuan
|Ceramic Cleopatra Group
|Guangdong New Pearl Ceramics Group
||5, including one in Russia, Lithuania, the
||12, including 6 in Czech Republic, 1 in Slovakia, 2
in Hungary, 3 in Romania
|Ceramica San Lorenzo
||7, including 1 in Peru, 1 in Chile, 1 in Mexico
||10, including 1 in France, 1 in Russia
||5, including 3 in Brazil