Growth for Italy’s natural stone exports confirmed: +13.9% in the first nine months of 2022

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According to official sector statistics processed by the Confindustria Marmomacchine Studies Center, from January to September 2022, Italy’s exports of marbles, travertines, and natural stones generally increased in value by 13.9% from the same period the previous year, reaching a worth of 1,562.6 million euros. Although slightly less than the figure for the first half of the year (which registered a 17.7% increase), this shows continuity with the growth trend seen last year (+20.8% from 2020), which had already made it possible to fully recoup the pre-pandemic export level (a +1.9% difference from 2019).

Analysing the composition of Italy’s stone sector exports, we see that a fundamental contribution to growth came from finished and semi-finished materials, whose foreign sales in the first nine months of 2022 increased by 17.4% compared to the same period in 2021, for a total of 1,274.5 million euros. It is noteworthy that finished products, being the ones with the highest added value, have traditionally also accounted for three-quarters of the total value of Italian stone exports, with a share that in 2022 reached 81.3%. Remaining essentially on the levels of 2021 (+0.8%) were exports of raw materials worth 288.1 million.

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According to the Confindustria Marmomacchine statistical report, from January to September 2022, the top buyer of blocks of marble, granite and natural stones extracted in Italy was China. Which – although backsliding by 7.5% from the record levels registered in 2021 – totalled 141.2 million in imports (or 50% of Italy’s total raw exports), followed by a rebounding India (+87.4%) with 36.1 million.

As for the finished and semi-finished products sector, the excellent health of the US market – up 30.4% from the first nine months of 2021 – confirms its undisputed leadership among destination markets with purchases worth 381.5 million euros or 30% of the total value of Italy’s exports of slabs and finished goods. It should be emphasised that there was also a heavy increase in sales to Italy’s major European trading partners, above all to Germany (second buyer with 124 million in imports, +15.3%), France (third with 78.1 million, +15.9%), Switzerland (fourth with 75.8 million, +8.4%) and Austria (seventh with 36.6 million, +7.3%). Meanwhile, there was a notable downturn in imports by the United Kingdom (-9%), and despite purchases worth 43.9 million euros, it was still the sixth-ranking buyer.

Positive was the export trend for finished stone products Made in Italy to the Persian Gulf area, Saudi Arabia (fifth with 47.1 million, +40.8%) and the United Arab Emirates (eighth with 33.6 million, +20%), in particular. Concluding the top ten buyers ranking were two other non-EU countries, Australia (ninth with 27.4 million, +16.4%) and Canada (tenth, with 24.4 million, +18.3%).

Therefore, the figures for the first nine months of 2022 confirm a generalised growth in Italy’s exports to almost all the major reference markets for stone products. While it is difficult to make predictions in a complex context like the one that companies are currently experiencing, in light of the critical points that emerged in the second half of the year – like the explosion of production factor costs and record energy prices – it is nonetheless licit to expect an attenuation of this positive trend in the final quarter of the year, although this should not prevent the Italian stone sector from ending 2022 with increasing foreign revenue for the second consecutive year after the losses of 2020.