CLEVELAND - The recent decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) to make Chinese quartz surfaces subject to punitive duties will raise prices and possibly slow the growth of the material in the nation's countertop market, according to an industry analyst.
Matthew Hurley of Freedonia Group notes that a rise in material costs will make engineered stone a less-attractive alternative to competitive countertop products.
'This will slow engineered stone countertop market growth in area terms to some degree,' Hurley says.
Hurley notes that China is a major source of quartz slab, accounting for roughly half of the total used in the United States. Since 2012, U.S. imports of quartz slab have surged in response to the robust growth in the US engineered stone countertop market.
'During this time,' says Hurley, 'Chinese producers have taken considerable market share away from the leading producers, which include Cambria, Cosentino, and Caesarstone.' Over the last five years demand has risen nearly five-fold for quartz surfaces as distribution networks have expanded and prices became more affordable for middle-income consumers
'If antidumping and countervailing duties are imposed as expected, this will have an immediate impact on average slab prices,' Hurley said. Imports from China will become more-expensive, and U.S. demand will grow for quartz slabs produced by higher cost alternative sources of supply, including U.S. plants, raising average price levels.
That rise, Hurley notes, could slow interest in the material especially among middle-income consumers, who have been a main source of market growth in recent years.
Nevertheless, engineered stone is projected to remain the fastest growing countertop surface material through 2022, according to a recently published Freedonia Group Study written by Hurley. The study is available from Freedonia Group.