The Italian Ceramic Industry: A Thriving Sector in 2022


Confindustria Ceramica recently unveiled the statistical surveys for 2022, shedding light on the vibrant Italian ceramic industry. From tile and sanitaryware production to refractory materials and tableware manufacturing, this sector has witnessed significant growth and international expansion. In this blog post, we will delve into the key findings, providing an overview of the industry’s performance, its contribution to the economy, and the challenges it faces.

The Italian Ceramic Tile Industry:

Italy is home to 128 ceramic tile companies that produced 431.2 million square meters in 2022, with a slight decline of 0.9% compared to the previous year. These companies employ 18,639 direct workers, maintaining a consistent level of employment. Total sales reached 448.9 million square meters, representing a decrease of 1.4%. Domestic sales in Italy exceeded 92.7 million square meters, marking a 1.7% increase, while exports accounted for 356.2 million square meters, a decrease of 2.2%. The total turnover of Italian tile companies amounted to approximately €7.2 billion, showing a remarkable growth of 16.5%. This revenue primarily stems from exports, contributing €6 billion (83% of the turnover), and €1.2 billion from domestic sales. The industry witnessed a 25.6% increase in investments, amounting to €441.3 million, with investments accounting for 6.1% of the turnover.

The Sanitaryware Sector:

Italy boasts 30 industrial companies dedicated to the production of sanitaryware, with 27 of them located in the Civita Castellana district (Viterbo). These companies employ 2,652 direct employees and produce 3.6 million pieces. The sector’s turnover amounts to €396.9 million, with foreign sales accounting for €156.8 million (40% of the total).

The Refractory Materials Industry:

The 30 companies involved in refractory materials production employ 1,639 workers and produce 301,100 tons. Despite a 2% decrease, the total turnover for this sector reached €373 million, with sales in the national market exceeding €151 million, and exports surpassing €222 million.

The Brick Sector:

Italy’s brick manufacturing sector comprises 62 companies employing 3,000 workers. In 2022, the sector generated a turnover of €700 million, primarily driven by the domestic market, with a total production of 4.6 million tons.

Ceramic Tableware:

Italian industrial companies dedicated to ceramic tableware employ 654 individuals and produce 9,900 tons, with finished product sales reaching 9,400 tons. The domestic market accounts for 75% of total sales. The sector’s turnover in 2022 amounted to €60.1 million, reflecting a notable increase of 27%, of which 63% was generated in Italy.

Challenges and Future Outlook:

According to Giovanni Savorani, President of Confindustria Ceramica, the industry faced various challenges, including a decline in export volume of approximately 25% during the first quarter of 2023, affecting all markets. However, Italy experienced a comparatively lower decline of less than 10%. The industry has been impacted by factors such as increased interest rates, high inflation resilience, the waning post-lockdown consumption boom, and decreased consumer confidence. With intensified international competition, the Italian and European ceramic industry places significant importance on ensuring fair trade practices among exporters, including those from India and China.

While the decline in thermal and electrical energy prices is a positive development, the industry still faces structural challenges. These include the absence of implementing decrees aimed at increasing national gas extraction by 2 billion cubic meters for gas-intensive sectors and a reform of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), which could further undermine the competitiveness of the EU industry. The current ETS mechanism, designed to promote decarbonization, has proven ineffective and counterproductive in terms of environmental improvement. It has also resulted in a recessionary effect on the industry, with CO2 prices currently fluctuating around €85 per ton, compared to €25 in June 2019. Additionally, the “Fit for 55” plan, targeting structural emissions reduction, poses negative effects on the sector’s competitiveness, as manufacturers have already implemented all possible efficiency measures, with limited feasible technological alternatives.

The Italian ceramic industry continues to thrive, contributing significantly to the economy and representing a pillar of the nation’s manufacturing sector. Despite facing challenges and a recent decline in exports, the industry remains resilient and is committed to fair trade practices and sustainable growth. With ongoing investments, a strong domestic market presence, and a legacy of excellence, the Italian ceramic industry is poised to overcome obstacles and maintain its prominent position on the global stage.

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