Market Trends: Durable Goods to Contribute to Abrasives Demand
U.S. demand for abrasives is projected to reach $7.0 billion by 2019.
Demand for abrasives in the U.S. is forecast to rise 3.8% per year through 2019 to $7.0 billion. Gains will decelerate from those seen over the 2009-2014 period, when abrasives demand grew quickly as a result of recovery from an unusually low, recession-impacted 2009 base. Solid growth in durable goods manufacturing will contribute to increased consumption of abrasives going forward. In addition, rising market share for higher-priced goods, such as superabrasives, will strengthen demand in value terms.
Durable goods manufacturing represents the largest market for abrasive products, accounting for 76% of the total in 2014. The strongest outlooks for abrasives in durable goods manufacturing are expected in markets such as furniture and wood products, machinery, and nonmetallic mineral products, all of which are expected to see improvements in manufacturing output through 2019.
Cleaning and maintenance applications, which represent the second-largest source of abrasives demand after durable goods, are expected to grow at a more modest pace, reflecting the maturity of abrasives use in typical cleaning activities. Construction applications are expected to be the single fastest-growing market for abrasives, benefiting from rapid gains in construction spending, but this market will remain a small portion of the total.
Abrasive Material Types
Nonmetallic abrasives account for the vast majority of abrasive products, comprising 93% of the total in 2014. Within nonmetallic abrasives, coated products are the largest category, followed by bonded abrasives and loose abrasive grains and powders. Bonded abrasives will post the fastest gains through 2019, in part due to the fact that this category contains the highest concentration of superabrasive materials, which are expected to expand their market share. Increased consumption of superabrasives (e.g., manufactured diamond) will also benefit coated abrasives and loose abrasives to some degree.
Metallic abrasives will post slightly below-average growth, reflecting the relative maturity and lack of emerging technology for products in this category. Competition from alternative materials, such as polyester nonwoven pads, will also hinder consumption of metallic abrasive products.
Demand for abrasive raw materials will advance slightly slower than demand for finished abrasives through 2019, reflecting the prevalence of low-cost foreign imports that will restrict price growth for many abrasive materials. Superabrasives, which include manufactured diamond and cubic boron nitride (CBN), are expected to see above-average gains. The hardness of these materials allows them to offer superior performance characteristics, but their use has historically been restricted by high prices. Improving production processes are expected to make these products more cost competitive, thereby benefiting demand for these materials in abrasive applications. However, these expected price declines will limit the pace of growth in value terms, even as volume demand grows.
The U.S. is a net importer of abrasives, with imports equivalent to 19% of consumption and exports equivalent to 12% of shipments in 2014. The U.S. trade deficit in these products is expected to widen through 2019 as Chinese imports continue to increase their share of the U.S. market. Canada and Mexico have historically been the largest export markets for U.S. abrasives producers, but trade with developing countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, has increased in importance for U.S. abrasives exporters in recent years.
The largest suppliers of abrasives to the U.S. market are 3M and Saint-Gobain, which together accounted for 32% of the total. Other major producers include TYROLIT Schleifmittelwerke, United Abrasives, Ervin Industries, and Jason.
For more information, visit www.freedoniagroup.com.