Global stainless steel production reaches new record in 2011

Brussels, 21 March 2012. The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) has released preliminary data which indicates that stainless steel production grew by 3.3% in 2011. Total production was 32.1 million metric tonnes (Mt), a new record for a single year.

Although there was some destocking noted during the third quarter of 2011, this was partially compensated during the final three months of the year. The increase in 2011 production comes on top of a 25% increase in 2010 which followed the economic crisis of 2008/2009. The recovery of the industry proves that a century after its discovery and commercialisation, stainless steel still has enormous potential for growth.

Not all of the stainless producing regions of the world have developed at the same pace in 2011. Excluding China, production in the Asia region declined by 2.7% to 8.8 Mt during 2011. In Taiwan, China production declined by 20.6%. Production in Japan declined by 5.3% to 3.2 Mt. By comparison, Korea (+5.3%) and India (+7.0%) increased their production of stainless during the year.

China has remained the driving force in stainless steel production with growth of 11.9% in 2011. The country produced 12.6 Mt of stainless during the year. Including China, Asian production now accounts for 66.5% of all the stainless steel produced in the world.

Stainless steel production in the Western Europe/Africa region largely stagnated during 2011 with volume of just under 7.9 Mt. Growth rates of individual countries in the region ranged from -5% to +18%. In the Central and Eastern Europe region, production rose by 14.1% to 0.4 Mt, although volume is almost negligible in a global context. In the Americas, stainless production dropped to 2.5 Mt, a decrease of 4.7% compared to 2010.

Table 1:       Stainless crude steel production (in ‘000 metric tons)

Region

Full Year

Y-o-Y
+/- %

Full Year

Y-o-Y
+/- %

2009

2010

2010

2011 (p)

Western Europe/Africa

6,449

7,878

22.2

7,878

7,875

0.0

Central and Eastern Europe

237

340

43.6

340

387

14.1

The Americas

1,942

2,609

34.4

2,609

2,486

-4.7

Asia (excluding China)

7,472

9,011

20.6

9,011

8,770

-2.7

China

8,805

11,256

27.8

11,256

12,592

11.9

World total

24,904

31,094

24.9

31,094

32,110

3.3

Source: International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF)

Comparing production for each quarter to 2010 shows that there were very different growth rates in the regions over the course of 2011. This reflects growing concerns about general global economic development and the destocking that occurred during the year. For example, in the first quarter of 2011 production grew by 8.7% as stainless steel stocks were replenished. Destocking took place in the second quarter (-0.8%), while the last two quarters of 2011 were relatively stock neutral, although in some regions destocking did occur.

 

Table 2:       Stainless crude steel production (in ‘000 metric tons)

 

Western Europe/Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

The Americas

Asia (excluding China)

China

World total

Quarter
1

2010

2,082

73

728

2,235

2,607

7,726

2011

2,216

85

779

2,238

3,076

8,395

% change

6.4

16.8

6.9

0.2

18.0

8.7

Quarter
2

2010

2,223

89

671

2,278

2,862

8,123

2011

2,080

114

598

2,134

3,129

8,054

% change

-6.4

26.9

-10.9

-6.3

9.3

-0.8

First
half

2010

4,305

163

1,399

4,513

5,469

15,849

2011

4,295

199

1,377

4,373

6,206

16,449

% change

-0.2

22.3

-1.6

-3.1

13.5

3.8

Quarter
3

2010

1,715

89

641

2,205

2,844

7,495

2011

1,683

104

553

2,220

3,170

7,730

% change

-1.9

16.8

-13.8

0.7

11.5

3.1

Quarter
4

2010

1,858

88

568

2,293

2,943

7,750

2011

1,898

84

557

2,177

3,215

7,931

% change

2.1

-4.1

-2.0

-5.1

9.3

2.3

Second half

2010

3,573

177

1,210

4,498

5,787

15,245

2011

3,580

188

1,110

4,397

6,386

15,661

% change

0.2

6.4

-8.3

-2.2

10.3

2.7

Market share by grade

Over the past few years, the stainless steel market has seen major changes in the grades of stainless produced. Chromium-manganese grades have become increasingly important in this time. More recently, production of chromium grades has also increased. Table 3 shows the market share of the three main categories of stainless steel. The data is based on reports from ISSF’s stainless steel producing members.

Table 3:       Stainless steel production by grade (percent of stainless steel production – preliminary estimates)

Grade category

Quarter 1

Quarter 2

Quarter 3

Quarter 4

2011 (p)

Chromium-manganese steels (200 series)

13.4

13.6

13.7

14.4

13.8

Chromium-nickel steels (300 series)

59.5

57.3

58.4

57.6

58.2

Chromium steels (400 series)

27.1

29.1

28.0

28.0

28.0

 

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Published: 20/03/2012
Last modified: 08/05/2012

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