Quartz Surface: Boom (or Bust?)

More growth. For now.

Possibly the most-astounding thing about quartz surfaces in 2017 is the record that wasn’t set. Even with double-digit growth in volume and value, quartz surfaces failed to surpass granite as the #1 hard-surface import.

Admittedly, it’s a value-only competition: Granite volume is measured in weight, while quartz surfaces are tallied in square meters (converted to square feet for U.S. readers). The $35-million gap between granite and quartz-surface values should close completely in 2018 … barring any extraordinary action.


China continued to expand its large lead in quartz-surface volume, with its 60.3 million ft² topping its 2016 total by 60% and accounting for 53.7% of all quartz surfaces entering the United States. Spain’s 18.3 million ft² showed excellent growth of 24.2%; the only sour note among leading exporters came from Vietnam, suffering a 15.1% decline from 2016.

China continued to expand its large lead in quartz-surface volume, with its 60.3 million ft² topping its 2016 total by 60% and accounting for 53.7% of all quartz surfaces entering the United States. Spain’s 18.3 million ft² showed excellent growth of 24.2%; the only sour note among leading exporters came from Vietnam, suffering a 15.1% decline from 2016.


For the moment, China drives much of the U.S. quartz-surface market. It's tough to imagine any other country in first place now, although the country was anything but dominant four years ago.

It’s no surprise that China also lead in quartz-surface-import value, although the difference between volume (60.1%)and value (53.8%) growth offers the clue that the country’s output comes a bit cheaper this year at U.S. ports-of-entry.


That’s also the case with two of the other three countries with double-digit growth in volume and value in 2017: India and Portugal. Only Spain managed to have strong growth in shipping and stronger growth in value.

But is it fair?

China’s streak to the top of the U.S. quartz-surfaces market came with plenty of industry grumbling, along with a formal petition by U.S.-based manufacturer Cambria in April 2018 claiming unfair below-market-value exporting by Chinese producers. Part of Cambria’s complaint (and effort to seek punitive “countervailing” duties on future China shipments) is the low value-per-ft² of Chinese quartz surfaces.


Are Chinese quartz-surface prices out of line with the U.S. market? Plenty of factors come into play, but USITC data allows for some apples-to-apples comparison with import values. The first of three charts detailing U.S. quartz-surface-import VPN shows 2013-2017 import volume for the top 10 exporting countries.

The second chart shows the declared custom value, for each of the past five years, for the top 10 countries sending quartz surfaces to the United States.

The third chart shows the full VPFt² history from 2013-2017, created by dividing the values in the second chart by the volumes of the first chart. And the numbers prove … that quartz-surface imports are part of a dynamic market.


China’s VPFt² is low (but not the lowest) and the change from 2013-2017 is slow (but not the slowest). Six of the 10 countries show a VPFt² below $10 last year. China’s VPFt² in 2017 declined from the previous year – but the same thing happened with three other countries.

VPFt² isn’t the whole argument about fair value. That’s probably a good thing, because it’s far from conclusive.