In the first nine months of 2022, the worth of exports from Italian makers of machines, installations, tools, and equipment to extract and process natural stones showed a decline on an annual basis of 3%. Revealing this was the data processed by the Confindustria Marmomacchine Studies Centre, which showed that from January to September, foreign sales of Italian stone and technologies were worth 787.2 million euros versus the 815.3 million in the same period the previous year.
This decline can surely be partly viewed as a physiological reaction after the excellent levels reached in 2021 when there was a recoup of 18.5% that brought the Italian techno-stone sector back to pre-pandemic levels (+0.3% the difference from 2019) but it also should be mentioned that in recent months there was a big slowdown in production investments on several important target markets, in particular in the United Kingdom, in China – which continues to be penalized by restrictions to contain the pandemic – and in Egypt, with the latter two countries even dropping out of the top ten destination countries. More generally, the picture drawn by the figures for the first nine months of 2022 is, in any case, one of essential stability for the foreign sales of Italian makers of stone technologies – whose exports on average account for nearly 80% of the sector’s overall revenue – who until now demonstrated an extraordinary ability to adapt and react to the difficulties tied to the current international situation.
Looking in detail at the first ten destination countries for these products, we see a record increase in exports to the United States (+32.3% from January-September 2021), confirmed as the leading market for Italian stone technologies with imports worth 143.1 million euros. There were fewer sales to the number two buyer, Spain (-10.6% from the excellent levels of 2021, for a total of 50,6 million), while those to Germany increased (+15.5%, in third place, with purchases of 44.9 million). Also on the rise were exports to France (+35.7%, fifth with 41.3 million), while they remained stable to Poland (-0.1%, sixth with 36.3 million). Among the most positive notes in 2022 were consolidated growth in exports to traditional non-EU partners like India (+57.6%, fourth with 41.7 million), Canada (+16.6%, seventh with 34.4 million), Turkey (+26.2%, ninth with 28.7 million) and Brazil (+3.7%, tenth with 28.5 mln), while there was a notable downturn in imports by the United Kingdom (-28.6%, ninth with 28.8 million).
If, until September, the statistics seemed, in any case, to confirm – despite well-known critical factors – good stability, the forecasts for later months were, unfortunately, none too optimistic. The sector had already seen a hike in prices for raw materials and components at the end of 2021, which was added in the second half of 2021 to the abnormal increase in energy costs.
While not one of the most energy-intensive sectors, the prolongation of this situation is a further cause for worry for Italian makers of stone technologies as for a major part of Italian manufacturing companies, which in coming months will again be called upon to demonstrate their resilience capacity, to innovate and reposition themselves on international markets.