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Italian ceramic industry faces energy crisis, expects slow growth in 2022

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The Italian ceramic tile industry estimates total sales of 458 million square meters (+0.7% from 2021, with Italy at +2.6%) for 2022, but an out-of-control energy bill and increased gas costs of over €1 billion are posing challenges. Despite the sector closing the year with stable production volumes and export sales, demand for ceramic tiles made in Italy has seen a progressive slowdown, attributed to rising energy costs. The ceramics sector is calling for the start of national gas extraction, to be allocated to sectors most affected by the cost of methane, including ceramics, to regain international competitiveness.

The Italian ceramic tile industry is expecting slow growth in 2022, with the industry estimating total sales of 458 million square meters, an increase of just 0.7% from 2021. Although Italy is expected to see a 2.6% growth in sales, the global demand for ceramic tiles made in Italy has seen a progressive slowdown throughout the year. The out-of-control energy bill, along with increased gas costs of over €1 billion, has been a major contributor to this challenging situation. The ceramics industry is calling for the start of national gas extraction, to be allocated to sectors most affected by the cost of methane, including ceramics, to regain international competitiveness.

The pre-estimate report for 2022, elaborated by Prometeia, indicates that the Italian ceramics industry is likely to register sales of 458 million square meters, with exports accounting for 364 million square meters (+0.2%) and domestic sales reaching 93 million square meters (+2.6%). The growth in sales was mainly driven by the Gulf region and the Far East, while sales remained stable in Western Europe, the Balkans, and Latin America, and declined in Eastern Europe and NAFTA. However, the strong fluctuations in demand and production costs have been a cause of concern, with the pre-estimate production growth of 3% to 448 million square meters needing particular attention.

According to the President of the Commission for Statistics of Confindustria Ceramica, Stefano Bolognesi, the ceramic tile demand has been revived post-lockdown and has been further strengthened by the increasing desire to renovate living spaces worldwide. This growth is based on the acknowledged characteristics of the material in terms of health, durability, and resistance, among others, and the increasing use of the product in the construction and furniture sectors.

Despite a growth in revenue in 2022, mainly in the first half of the year, Bolognesi stressed that the industry cannot be happy due to the significant increase in production costs, particularly natural gas. The ceramics industry faced a gas bill increase of €250 million to €1 billion last year due to high prices on the TTF market. This year, prices have increased even further, with peaks in August reaching up to 16 times the long-term historical average. The ceramics sector has been negatively impacted by market fluctuations, political decisions to be independent of Russian gas, and the absence of a clear energy plan.

The ceramics industry is seeking the allocation of national gas extraction to sectors, including ceramics, most affected by the cost of methane to regain international competitiveness. The comment came at a press conference where a conclave was held to discuss the situation and prospects of the Italian real estate market. The conference included presentations from the President of Confindustria Ceramica, Giovanni Savorani, Vice President of Confindustria, Emanuele Orsini, Director of BPER Banca, Giuseppe Sibillia, and CEO of AbitareIn, Marco Grillo.

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