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Cement and Construction Aggregates in the US: August 2021 Brief

Photo by Shane McLendon on Unsplash

US imports of stone, sand, cement and lime reached $661.41 million in June 2021, according to Trading Economics. This represents a 2% increase with respect to May, with $648 million imported. So far, March has been the month with the highest imports of these materials in 2021, reaching $690.39 million.

The US Geological Survey has already published its first 2021 quarterly report for construction aggregates, and ongoing monthly data for Portland and blended cement. Crushed stone production is almost equal when comparing Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, but sand and gravel production is up by 6%. Cement production has also been higher by 6.5%, when comparing the first five months of both years.

Lime production is also growing, according to Market Watch. The global market reached a value of $25,480 million in 2020, and is expected to reach $29,930 million by 2026. This represents a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.3% from 2021 to 2026. Lime is an important material in several business sectors beyond construction, including the chemical and metallurgical industries.

Construction Aggregates: Crushed Stone, Sand and Gravel

According to the USGS, the country produced 464 million metric tons (Mt) of construction aggregates in Q1 2021. This represents a 1.6% increase with respect to Q1 2020, where the production was 457 Mt.

  • The 464 Mt output can be divided into 286 Mt of crushed stone, and 178 Mt of construction sand and gravel.
  • Production for local consumption increased in 20 of the 41 states included in the report.
  • The top five states were Texas, California, Florida, Missouri and Arizona. Together they produced  161 Mt of construction aggregates, a 6% increase with respect to Q1 2020.

Crushed stone production was roughly the same as in Q1 2020, with only a slight decrease from 288 to 286 Mt. The top five states in Q1 2021 were Texas, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Their production was 109 Mt, which represents 38% of the US total for Q1 2021, and a 6% increase with respect to Q1 2021.

Sand and gravel production was 6% higher than in Q1 2020, increasing from 169 to 178 Mt. In this case the top five states were California, Texas, Arizona, Utah and Washington. Their production for Q1 2021 was 72.5 Mt – almost 41% of the US total and 12% higher than in Q1 2020.

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Portland and Blended Cement

Portland and blended cement shipments in the US reached 9.2 Mt in May 2021, which represents a 5.6% increase compared with May 2020. This includes local production and imports. Total shipments during the first five months of 2021 reached 40.3 Mt, which is 6.5% higher compared with Jan-May 2020.

  • The top five producers of Portland and blended cement in May 2021 were Missouri, California, Texas, Florida and Michigan. They account for 39% of cement production.
  • On the other hand, the top five consumers were Texas, California, Florida, Ohio and Georgia. These states received 37% of cement shipments in May 2021.

With the approval of the $1T infrastructure bill on August 10, a strong demand for construction aggregates and cement can be expected.

Latest Import and Export Price Indexes from the US BLS

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an import price index of 134.1 for all commodities in June 2021, compared with 132.8 in May 2021. This represents a monthly increase of 1%, and an 11.2% increase with respect to June 2020. When considering selected building materials, the import price index increased from 257.9 (May 2021) to 270.4 (June 2021), which represents a 4.8% monthly increase and 84.4% annual increase.

The US BLS also compared import and export price indexes for stone, plaster, cement, asbestos, ceramics and glass:

  • The import price index increased from 131.8 (May 2021) to 132.0 (June 2021). This represents a 0.2% monthly increase and 0.1% annual increase.
  • The export price index increased from 132.7 (May 2021) to 132.3 (June 2021). This represents a 0.3% monthly decrease, and a 4.8% annual increase. 

In other words, the import price index for these materials was almost unchanged on a yearly basis, but the export price index increased by nearly 5%.

Source Trading Economics USGS MarketWatch

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