2019 Hard-Surface Imports
2019 Value: $120,220,968 Change from 2018: -24.2%
Travertine’s woes continued with its fifth straight year of declining import values. The 2019 total is nearly 60% lower than the $291.1 million shipped in 2014; last year is also the worst for value since the $97.4 million recorded in 1998.
Sector leader Turkey, with $70.5 million last year, set its lowest annual total since 2002. The large decline (-28.9%) from 2018 is anything but unusual for the stone; of the top five exporters to the United States in 2019, four of them saw values drop by more than 10%. (Italy’s fell by only 8.3%.)
The sector’s bright spot: Spain bucked the trend and increased its travertine import value by almost 50% in 2019, recovering from a same-sized drop in 2018.
2019 Volume: 250,656 MT Change from 2018: -16.3%
Finding a year where less travertine crossed U.S. ports-of-entry than 2019 led to the last of the 20th century, when 195,854 MT came to this country in 1999. And it’s not like the stone failed to recover from the Great Recession; in 2015, the total import volume hit 724,358 MT or nearly three times as much as last year.
Four years ago, more than 85% of the travertine (620,167 MT) came from Turkey. In 2019, shipments slid to 180,096 MT, and the country’s share dropped to just shy of 72% of all travertine entering the United States.
It’s a strange year when China provides the sector highlight, but it boosted travertine exports to the United States by nearly 55% from 2018. That increase, however, came at a very large cost.
2019 Value per Ton: $479.63 Change from 2018: -9.4%
China’s travertine VPT path reads like a roller-coaster ride in the past few years, with a huge upslope in 2018 as volumes fell, and a staggering drop last year as those shipments increased by half. The big adjustment brought China more in line with other major travertine exporters.
That’s not encouraging, either, as both sector leader Turkey and second-place Mexico show declining VPT for the past two years. Turkey dropped below the $400 level for the first time since 2015.
Turkey managed to finish 2019 with a higher VPT than four years ago. None of the other top five exporters to the United States managed to do the same.