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Manufacturers operate complex supply chains that, in many cases, involve the movement of raw materials and resources from different parts of the world into their factories. 

It is an ever-moving puzzle. Indeed, manufacturing firms are often at the mercy of a range of factors outside of their control that can lead to disruptions, difficulties and, in extreme circumstances, halts in production. 

A timely reminder of this came in March when a 400-meter-long container vessel, the Ever Given, ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking the waterway that is responsible for the safe passage of billions of dollars’ worth of goods and materials every year. Around 12% of global trade, including 1 million barrels of oil and 8% of liquefied natural gas, passes through the canal each day.


The blockage, caused by high winds, took six days to unjam and even took a human life in the process. Hundreds of other vessels were also delayed, a pile up which is thought to have consisted of almost $10 billion of goods.  

Meanwhile, as well as relying on the safe passage of goods from around the world, manufacturers are also having to take sustainability issues more seriously than ever before. 

In November, world leaders, including President Joe Biden, gathered in the U.K. for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26. Here, several key pledges were made to help move the world toward carbon neutrality, and there is no doubt that private sector organizations will have to play their parts in helping societies to successfully transition. In many cases, this could mean reassessing supply chains and the origin of key materials.  

Indeed, what if such materials were able to be sourced closer to home? 

There are various studies pointing toward consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for more sustainable products. IBM, for example, found that 57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce negative environmental impacts, with 70% saying they would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands which are sustainable. Cheaper sourcing from abroad, it seems, could be compensated by customers who are willing to pay more for home-grown products. 

And the U.S. is home to an abundance of natural resources that are already supporting key manufacturing endeavors. Here, we explore just a few examples across states that can offer certain nearby manufacturers a competitive advantage.  


The U.S. is home to some vast areas of woodland that support key industries reliant on this versatile raw material. 

Globally, demand for wood-based products is steady. Indeed, the wood manufacturing market is projected to reach $502 billion in value by 2027, up from $442 billion in 2020–growing at a compound annual growth rate of 1.8% during the period. 

In America, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the forest products industry is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 48 states. In terms of finances, this activity generates more than $200 billion a year in sales and pays about $54 billion in wages. 

The total amount of land covered by forests in the country is estimated to be around 750 million acres, with Alaska by far the most forested state. Oregon and California follow in second and third respectively. 

Several key industries are supported by this abundance of wood resources, including paper and pulp, furniture and construction. Moreover, around two thirds of American forested land is timberland, which is capable of producing industrially utilized wood. 


States home to a thriving agricultural scene could provide homegrown advantages to all manner of businesses, especially those operating in the food production supply chain. 

While there are many factors which determine the attractiveness of an area in regard to farming, soil quality is arguably the most important. 

In the U.S., mollisols are widely recognized to be the best growing soils due to a range of properties–namely, they are extremely fertile and of neutral pH. 

Resultantly, they constitute a large part of the country’s Wheat Belt and the wheat-growing area of Palouse in eastern Washington, with Illinois and Iowa also home to this favorable farming soil. 

Vermont is another state recognized for its high soil quality. While home to a variety, its official state soil is Tunbridge, which is described as “loamy and acidic” in nature. The state equally ranks highly across several factors such as farming infrastructure and investment. 

Agriculture also thrives in Nebraska. Here, the official state soil is Holdrege, which facilitates high yields because of its natural fertility and excellent moisture retention capacity. This translates into financials, with Nebraska’s corn yields being the third largest in the U.S. and worth $6.3 billion in 2018. 

California, however, is by far the country’s most prolific agricultural state. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, California is responsible for 13.5% of all agricultural revenue in America. 

In 2020, the state recorded receipts of more than $49 billion across all agricultural commodities, nearly double that of Iowa ($26.2 billion) and 2.5 times the value of agricultural activity in Texas ($20.2 billion). 

There are many reasons why California is so well suited to growing crops. Not only is the western state home to some extremely fertile soil, but its climatic conditions also ensure the most is made of the quality of the land. It is the leading producer of a range of commodities, including wheat, lemons, oranges, grapes and avocados, and is among the most prolific grower of commonly consumed vegetables such as onions, lettuce, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. Indeed, California produces more than 200 varieties of crops, with some being exclusive to the territory. 

This translates into an enticing prospect for businesses which rely on or work with a vast array of farmed ingredients. Rather than ship them in from abroad, setting up or sourcing from closer to home could provide sustainability, financial and risk-reducing supply chain advantages.


As well as abundant forests and vast swathes of prime agricultural land, the United States is also home to an array of minerals that serve all kinds of industrial activities. 

In 2020, mines across the country produced more than $82 billion worth of minerals, according to figures released in the 26th annual Mineral Commodity Summaries report from the USGS National Minerals Information Center. 

“Industries–such as steel, aerospace and electronics–that use nonfuel mineral materials created an estimated $3.03 trillion in value-added products in 2020,” said Steven M. Fortier, director of the USGS National Minerals Information Center.

In terms of metals, mine production in 2020 was estimated to be $27.7 billion, which is around 3% higher than that in 2019. 

Key contributors to this total value were gold (38%), copper (27%), iron ore (15%) and zinc (6%), with a total of 12 mineral commodities each having been mined at a value of more than $1 billion in 2020.

Geographically, several states are home to sizeable mineral mining activities. In 2020, 12 states each produced more than $2 billion worth of nonfuel mineral commodities. The states, ranked in descending order of production value, were: Nevada, Arizona, Texas, California, Minnesota, Florida, Alaska, Utah, Missouri, Michigan, Wyoming and Georgia.

It is also important to note that some industries in the U.S. rely heavily on imports. In 2020, imports made up more than one half of U.S. consumption for 46 nonfuel mineral commodities, with 17 minerals being wholly imported. These imported minerals are key materials for a range of industrial endeavors, including renewable energy generation and storage, as well as infrastructure technologies.

However, there is no doubt that the U.S. offers opportunities for enterprises reliant on a range of mineral resources, as shown by those 12 states that achieved more than $2 billion in output. 

Here, we explore a few of the country’s most abundant and valuable mineral commodities: 


Gold needs no introduction. One of the most iconic minerals, it has symbolized prosperity and formed the basis of currency through the ages. 

However, gold also carries a huge number of industrial uses that stretch far beyond coinage and blocks being stored in bank vaults, thanks to a myriad of special and diverse properties that make it incredibly useful. Some of these include being a conductor of electricity, non-tarnishing, very easy to work and able to be drawn into wire and hammered into thin sheets. Moreover, gold can be melted and cast into highly detailed shapes, offering a unique and appealing color and a desirable sheen.

All of this means gold is highly sought after across many industrial practices and sectors. In electronics, for example, devices use very low voltages and currents which are easily interrupted by corrosion or tarnishing at various contact points. Gold is a reliable conductor that can overcome this problem. Indeed, it will be found in almost every sophisticated electronic device, from smartphones and calculators to GPS systems and home assistants like Alexa. 

In terms of gold production in the U.S., the west of the country is where most deposits are found. Nevada and Alaska are the states that lead the production rankings from both lode mines and placer deposits, these feeding primarily into jewelry, electronics and coin-making activities.

In 2016, around $8.5 billion of gold was produced across the U.S., translating into 209 metric tons.   

Crushed stone 

Somewhat less glamourous than gold, crushed stone is an equally important mineral commodity produced in high quantities and serving critical industrial activity. 

According to USGS National Minerals Information Center figures for 2016 (the most recent available), the value of American crushed stone output, which includes limestone, dolomite and granite, reached $16.2 billion. 

The vast majority of crushed stone supplies the construction and ongoing upkeep of the United States’ transportation network. In 2016, more than three quarters of crushed stone went into road construction and maintenance, with another 11% going into cement manufacturing activities and 7% being used in lime production.  

Companies working with these materials (especially those producing various construction aggregates) will therefore likely be based in states where crushed stone output is highest in order to gain a proximity advantage. This is important, as crushed stone is a heavy material of relatively low value per ton, meaning any savings that can be made on transport will greatly increase financial viability. 

A handful of states are resultantly responsible for more than half of the U.S. production of crushed stone. These are Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. It should also be noted that small amounts of crushed stone are imported from the likes of Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas. 


Another important mineral supplying the construction sector is copper. One of the first metals ever mined and used by humans, it has played an influential role in the shaping and evolution of civilizations. 

It remains the fifth most valuable mineral mined in the United States. In 2016, 1.41 million metric tons were produced, generating $6.8 billion in revenue–most of it deriving from sites in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Montana and Michigan. 

Some 44% of this copper supported construction sector activities, with 19% being used in the production of transportation equipment and another 18% going into electric and electronic products. 

Rising regulatory approvals to drive bioglass fiber market expansion in Europe

Over the recent years, an extensive array of bioglass benefits including good osteostimulativity, osteoconductivity, mechanical strength, and degradability have been instrumental in unlocking critical growth opportunities for bioglass fiber market players across the orthopedics application. Upon implantation into the body, these products effectively reinforce the bonding between hard and soft tissues, promote the formation of dense HA (hydroxyapatite) layer on the surface, and rapidly combine with bone tissue for inducing and accelerating the process of bone growth.

These properties of bioactive glass have propelled an increase in studies pertaining to BG application in numerous orthopedic areas comprising BG bone cement, BG nanoparticles, BG coating, BG nanofibers, drug and biological factor-load BG, BG scaffolds, injectable BG-based hydrogels/pastes, metal ion-loaded BG, and others. Similar initiatives are expected to augment bioglass fiber market size, which is anticipated to surpass USD 15.3 million by 2027, according to Global Market Insights Inc.

Here are a few key trends that are slated to stimulate the business landscape in the near future:

Rising demand for borate-based glass and glass ceramic products

While the market revenue from borate-based glass is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 9% through the estimated period, the glass ceramic segment is expected to account for an appreciable valuation through 2027.

This growth can be attributed to the mounting adoption of glass ceramics in dental care products including corrosion inhibitors and filler materials. Optimum bone-grafting ability and good biocompatibility are additional factors expected to push product demand over the coming years.

Growing research activities pertaining to dental application

Numerous organizations are taking a keen interest in conducting research initiatives centered on the applicability of bioglass fiber in the field of dental care. One such study, published in May 2021, aimed at investigating the bioactivity and cytotoxicity of a novel nanocomposite containing nBGs (nanoparticles of bioactive glass) on human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs).

The research found that the use of nBG/BD not only enabled hDPSC proliferation and attachment but also escalated the expression of ALP in mineral-producing cells. The findings are slated to create opportunities for the deployment of nBG/BD in vital pulp therapies.

Europe bioglass fiber market: Increasing number of product approvals to drive business landscape in the region

The European region has recorded an upsurge in the approval of newly developed products by regulatory bodies across various countries. For instance, in May 2021, Prosidyan, Inc., secured two CE Marks for its FIBERGRAFT BG Morsels, FIBERGRAFT BG Putty GPS, and FIBERGRAFT BG Putty. Made from proprietary micro- and nano-sized bioactive glass fibers, the FIBERGRAFT substitute provides numerous advantages such as optimized rates of resorption, high surface area, and direct connectivity.

Steps taken by leading industry players: A brief overview

Major companies in the bioglass fiber industry comprise Mo-Sci Corporation (The Heraeus Group), Vetra Biomaterials, Corbion Biotech, Inc., Prosidyan, Inc., ETS Wound Care LLC., and others. These participants are depicting a greater inclination towards the implementation of strategic initiatives including collaborative agreements, mergers, and acquisitions for consolidating their position in the market.

For instance, in September 2021, The Heraeus Group acquired ETS Technology Holdings LLC and Mo-Sci Corporation. The move strengthened the group’s healthcare and medical technology portfolio, which comprises market leadership in the supply of medical devices and components.

In a nutshell, the increasing product adoption across healthcare systems in developed countries, owing to multiple benefits such as voluntary funding, government schemes, and attractive medical insurances, is expected to bolster bioglass fiber market share through the forthcoming years.


Global Ceramic Sanitary Ware Trade Accelerates with U.S. Imports Surpassing Record $1.7B

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Ceramic Sinks, Baths, Water Closet Pans And Similar Sanitary Fixtures – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Trade in the global ceramic sanitary ware market is gaining momentum. U.S. imports surpassed a record $1.7B last year, while India emerged as the fastest-growing buyer in the past decade.

In 2021, trade value on the global ceramic sanitary ware market totalled $7.8B. The U.S., the largest sanitary ware importer, purchased abroad ceramic products worth a record $1.7B, which was 3.2% more than a year earlier. Germany, ranking second, recorded an import value of $556M, a 5.6%-increase against 2020. The third-largest buyer worldwide, France also expanded purchases by 3.7% y/y to $409M.

The American housing boom shows signs of calming down; therefore, the demand for ceramic sinks, baths, water closet pans and similar sanitary fixtures in the U.S. is forecast to decelerate in several years. By contrast, in the EU, ceramic sanitary ware imports are expected to rise due to intensifying construction activity driven by renovation programs.

India became the fastest-growing importer of ceramic sanitary ware from 2007 to 2021. During that period, supplies to India rose from $21.4M to $123M. India’s sanitary ware imports should stay at the current level thanks to continuing the ‘Housing for all by 2022’ program.

Top Largest Exporters of Ceramic Sanitary Ware Worldwide

China was the leading exporting country with a volume of around 72M units, which recorded 41% of total exports. Mexico (11M units) held the second position in the ranking, followed by Thailand (8.3M units). All these countries together held near 11% share of total exports.

In value terms, China ($2.7B) remains the largest ceramic sanitary ware supplier worldwide, comprising 37% of global exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Germany ($563M), with a 7.9% share of total supplies. It was followed by Mexico, with a 5.5% share.

Source: IndexBox Platform


U.S. Biodiesel Market: Price Rally to Continue in 2022, Making Biofuel Uncompetitive

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. – Biodiesel – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends And Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Biodiesel prices in the U.S. soared by 59% y/y last year, making biofuel less competitive compared to fossil fuels. The average FOB price for American biodiesel B100 was $5.58 per gallon in November 2021, while the on-highway average price for conventional diesel was $3.74 per gallon.

Biodiesel prices skyrocketed in the U.S. in 2021, and their growth is to continue this year. According to USDA data, the average spot FOB export price for biodiesel B100 from the plants in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio reached $5.58 per gallon in November 2021, surging by 59% against 2020. The on-highway average price for conventional diesel soared by 41% y/y to $3.64 per gallon, remaining much lower than those of biodiesel.

The rising costs of vegetable raw materials and energy were the key reasons for the biodiesel price increase and will further propel the biofuel prices this year. According to World Bank’s forecast, the price for soybean oil, one of the significant raw inputs for biodiesel production, is set to grow by nearly 4% totalling $1,425 per tonne in 2022. The cost of fossil fuels is also projected to remain at the high level of 2021, which implies increased expenditures for energy in biodiesel manufacturing.

U.S. Biodiesel Exports by Country

Biodiesel exports from the U.S. surged to 476K tonnes in 2020, rising by 25% from the previous year’s figure. In value terms, supplies fell modestly to $381M (IndexBox estimates).

Canada (424K tonnes) was the leading destination for exports from the U.S., with an 89% share of total supplies. Moreover, exports to Canada exceeded the volume sent to the second major destination, Peru (19K tonnes), more than tenfold. The Netherlands (14K tonnes) held the third position in this ranking, with a 2.9% share.

In value terms, Canada ($351M) remains the key foreign market for biodiesel from the U.S., comprising 92% of total exports. The Netherlands ($9.9M) held the second position in the ranking, with a 2.6% share of total supplies. It was followed by Peru, with a 2.3% share.

Source: IndexBox Platform

green building

Flat glass demand grows with rising green building construction

The process of glassmaking has made significant strides since the time glass was first discovered thousands of years ago. Today, the field of glassmaking has depicted considerable improvements, as is evident in the escalating demand for glass products in almost every sector. Automotive and construction – sectors that are considered as the building blocks of an economy are among the top contributors toward the global flat glass market share.

However, while several sectors are exploiting the benefits of flat glass and its various forms to manufacture different products, the environmental concerns with respect to glass waste are growing. Populations across the world are becoming aware of the hazards of improper glass disposal. According to the Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the U.S. disposes off an astounding 10 million metric tons of glass every year. However, only one-third of this waste gets recycled.

Another surprising study by Eco Watch states that glass bottles are causing more pollution than plastic ones since it is mined from rare materials and consumes more fossil fuels to manufacture and ship to other places. An article by Forge Recycling states that the glassmaking process releases various harmful gases, such as sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxide.

Therefore, the concept of glass recycling is picking up the pace in many regions. The article further suggests that recycling the glass waste can reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 314 tons and save up to 345,000 kWh of energy.

Green building construction gains momentum:

The concept of eco-friendly construction is gaining traction among customers and companies alike to reduce their carbon footprint. Various advanced technologies are being introduced in the process of glassmaking which has made flat glass among the most preferred products in the construction of green buildings. According to glass and windows solutions company AIS, conventional buildings can consume nearly 40% of energy and the construction itself can cause the generation of solid waste, which can disturb the natural ecosystem.

Several countries are overcoming this challenge by achieving their goals in the construction of green buildings. For example, in 2020, India achieved 75% of the ‘Green Building Footprint’ target, as per a report by the Indian Green Building Council. This creates opportunities to use various advanced versions of flat glass products.

Solar control glasses are being manufactured by leading companies as they reflect heat or UV rays, which can make the buildings more energy efficient. Moreover, 100% of glass can be recycled, which automatically makes it an ideal product in green buildings. Glass can also reduce the overall weight of the building and offer advanced thermal insulation, thereby increasing its demand among architects and construction firms.

Use of glass in interior designing:

The field of interior designing is ever-evolving as new designs and trends make way for more sophisticated yet stylish home settings. Many reputed interior designers have taken cognizance of the importance of combining environmental sustainability with advanced designs. They are incorporating broken glass shards into their designs that will not only help them achieve their glass recycling and sustainability goals but also enrich a dull space with beautiful colors and shapes.

Ceramic glass is becoming popular among interior designing experts as they are being heavily used to construct fireplaces. Fireplaces often pose the threat of accidental fires, on account of which contractors use this glass as a shield as it can withstand extreme heat.

Demand for laminated glass rises:

Laminated glass may hold a significant share of the global flat glass market by 2027. Laminated glass is being extensively used by several end-user sectors as it can act as an effective alternative to conventional glass due to its high strength and uniformity in construction. It is typically used in buildings that require robust security, such as police stations & vehicles and government establishments.

Laminated glass can also be used in buildings that are at a high risk of being affected by hurricanes or other natural calamities. Its other advantages include reduced emissions, high security, decreased noise pollution, and wide range of designs, which make it highly useful for end-users.

The global flat glass market trends will be positively impacted in the coming years as the demand for advanced technologies in glassmaking is growing. Moreover, several end-users in the construction and interior design sectors are shifting towards combining environmental sustainability in their designs and blueprints to fulfill the need for eco-friendly homes and workspaces among consumers.

The automotive sector across the world is expanding at a strong pace, considering the immense demand for vehicles among the younger generation. This has greatly influenced the demand for auto glass to produce unbreakable yet stylish windows.

Reputed organizations, such as Schott AG, Saint Gobain, Astro Cam, Dillmeier Glass Company, CSG Architectural, Corning Inc., Euroglas GmbH, Oldcastle Building Envelope, Paragon Tempered Glass, and GrayGlass Company, among several others, are producing cutting-edge versions of flat glass for a wide range of sectors.

They are also entering into partnerships and merger & acquisition agreements to strengthen their production capabilities and enhance their customer base. For instance, Germany’s specialty glass manufacturing company Schott AG and the Serum Institute of India (SII) came together in a joint venture in August 2021 to enhance SII’s global supply of pharmaceutical products with the help of Schott’s high-quality pharmaceutical packaging.


Metal Shortages Add Concerns to Global Economy

As the global economy continues to throw curveballs at various industries, raw materials and associated manufacturers, distributors, workers, and consumers are among those feeling the bulk of the pressure. So, how can these effects be mitigated without costing consumers and company’s unreasonable amounts? A global leader in all things tungsten, Almonty Industries focuses on the mining, processing, and shipping of tungsten across the world. The company’s CEO, Lewis Black, shares the challenges automotive and energy companies are currently navigating and how these industries can overcome them in this exclusive Q&A.

What are some of the most significant impacts of the steel and metal shortages and what industries are being hit the hardest?

Black: From Almonty’s point of view and what we are doing with the tungsten industry in South Korea, the construction industry is definitely feeling the brunt of the impact. Even though the material is available, the price is extraordinarily high, and we are witnessing a huge escalation in costs and delay in delivery times.

The industry is moving along and accepting these challenges, but things are now taking longer to build and it is costing more money to accomplish. The redeeming quality is that money is still unbelievably cheap which has helped in mitigating these cost escalations.

Problems arise when inflation keeps rising and governments continue to raise rates to counter it, which is another issue. Now, companies with projects are optimistically moving forward because they have no choice. The increase in time it takes to build and its impact on the costs for labor can predictably cause a movement within labor unions demanding compensation for their workers to counter inflation.

How are the semiconductor and automotive industries affected by this?

Black: The semiconductor industry is experiencing shortages due to demand far outweighing supply. It is interesting because it is commonly assumed that the industry is a relatively straightforward product to produce, when in fact, it’s anything but. Creating this type of product is technically advanced and takes around nine weeks to make one semiconductor. From a tungsten point of view, one must pump tungsten gas into every semiconductor, so increasing capacity becomes a huge undertaking for the factory.

Are there any specific initiatives that can be taken to mitigate these challenges?

Black: As a manufacturer, you are caught in a tricky situation. You will continue to see rising costs and how much of that cost you can push onto the consumer is yet to be evaluated. There is an inherent apprehension about how much to pass on to the consumer. Consumer indexes and inflation rises of 4-5 percent are not the same for raw materials, in fact, it is much higher than these figures. We are seeing extra caution from manufacturers regarding the consumer aspect of it.

At this point, it is just a matter of time before we start seeing price escalations. As the saying goes, “No one can hold back a rising tide.”

Companies are very reluctant to pass off some of these costs because of the price gouging headlines and hearsay that does not apply to them. In Spain, for instance, energy cost is 400 percent higher than previously recorded, impoverishing millions of people. The response of the central government was to accuse the energy companies of price gouging and say they were going to introduce legislation to seize their profits and distribute them to the people. Of course, they have not done that because in a democracy you cannot just do that. It was an absurd proposition to even state because it had nothing to do with the energy companies – the market sets the price, not the companies.

That is exactly what manufacturers are reluctant to do – get caught in the crosshairs of this type of situation when passing costs off to consumers.

Any last thoughts you would like to add?

Black: Inflation is inevitably going to get worse before it gets better. You can analyze a market and forecast all day, but what you cannot do is control what the government is going to implement. If a government continues to spend money, the problem is compounded. Inflation is not a mysterious economic concept.

To learn more about Almonty Industries, visit


Vietnam Strengthens Position in American Plastic Shutter and Blind Imports

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. – Plastic Shutters And Blinds – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends And Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

American imports of plastic shutters and blinds jumped by +11% y-o-y to 97M units in 2020. In value terms, imports grew to $887M, steadily rising during the past decade. Cambodia, China and Viet Nam constitute the largest suppliers to the U.S., accounting for 75% of the American imports. Viet Nam emerged as the fastest-growing exporter of plastic shutters and blinds to the U.S. last year. The average import price for plastic shutters and blinds dropped by -8.9% y-o-y $9.1 per unit in 2020.

 American Imports of Plastic Shutters and Blinds

In 2020, imports of plastic shutters and blinds into the U.S. expanded remarkably to 97M units, growing by +11% on the year before. In value terms, plastic shutters and blinds imports rose slightly from $879M in 2019 to $887M (IndexBox estimates) in 2020. Over the past decade, American imports increased from $549M to $887M.

Cambodia (28M units), China (27M units) and Viet Nam (19M units) were the main suppliers of plastic shutters and blinds imports to the U.S., together comprising 75% of total imports.

Among other suppliers, Viet Nam (+74.1% per year) recorded the biggest increases in export volume of plastic shutters and blinds to the U.S. in 2020.

In value terms, Cambodia ($264M), China ($199M) and Viet Nam ($198M) constituted the largest plastic shutters and blinds suppliers to the U.S., with a combined 75% share of total imports.

The average import price for plastic shutters and blinds stood at $9.1 per unit in 2020, with a decrease of -8.9% against the previous year. There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major supplying countries. In 2020, the country with the highest price was Viet Nam ($11 per unit), while the price for Taiwan (Chinese) ($6.9 per unit) was amongst the lowest. In 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Viet Nam, while the prices for the other major suppliers experienced mixed trend patterns.

Source: IndexBox Platform


U.S. Glass Bottle Market: Growing Demand and Short Supply Are Driving Recycling

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. Glass Bottle And Container Market. Analysis And Forecast to 2025’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The U.S. glass bottle market is running into a supply shortage caused by high demand for alcohol, raw materials being reallocated to produce vaccine vials and supply-chain disruptions arising from the shipping-container crisis. Confronted with a labor shortage, the increased demand for glass could incentivize developments in recycling with substantial potential for growth because currently, only 31% of glass bottles in the U.S. are recycled.

Key Trends and Insights

IndexBox calculates that in 2020, the U.S. market of glass bottles and containers grew by 0.6%, reaching about 4.4M tonnes or $6.7B in monetary terms. Approximately 25% of the American market is supplied by foreign products, mainly from Mexico (29% of total U.S. imports), China (18%) and Taiwan (10%).

Despite imports rising to $1.6B in the first ten months of this year (+22% compared to the same period in 2020), the U.S. is facing a glass bottle deficit. Beverage producers must search for alternatives such as plastic packaging. The key factors causing this shortfall are the high demand for alcohol and the increasing number of recycled bottles used for producing glass vials for vaccines. Another factor inciting the scarcity of glass bottles is the supply chain disruption in Asia, rising from a deficit in shipping containers.

There is excellent potential to increase glass recycling and expand the raw material base in the U.S. Since glass is 100% recyclable, implementing a recycling process could replace up to 95% of first-use materials with second-use. Even though in the past 40 years, the amount of recycled material grew by a factor of four, the EPA calculates that recycled glass only accounts for a 31% share. In these conditions, second-use products are used in 40% of beer and non-alcoholic beverage bottles, 40% of wine and alcoholic beverage bottles and 15% for food and other glass bottles. In 2018, there was a total of 12.3M tonnes of waste glass, but only 3M was recycled while at the same time, wasted glass amounted to 7.6M.

Over 40 factories are currently focused on production, and more than 60 operate for processing (recycling) glass in the U.S. During the existing labour shortage, the high demand could drive developments in far more cost-effective technologies, such as a Curbside Recycling System. According to the Container Recycling Institute, Curbside Recycling of 1000 tonnes of glass would require about 8 personnel while at the same time using a Deposit Return System is from 11 to 38 times more labour-intensive.

U.S. Glass Bottle Imports 

Glass bottle and container imports into the U.S. totaled 1.6M tonnes in 2020, growing by 2.3% on 2019 figures. In value terms, the purchases reached $1.4B (IndexBox estimates).

Mexico (436K tonnes), China (339K tonnes) and Taiwan (Chinese) (188K tonnes) were the leading suppliers to the U.S., together comprising 61% of total volume. Canada, France, India, Germany, Italy, Chile, Poland and Turkey lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 26%.

In value terms, Mexico ($450M), China ($252M) and Taiwan (Chinese) ($122M) constituted 57% of the total imports. These countries were followed by Canada, France, Italy, Germany, India, Poland, Chile and Turkey, which together accounted for a further 31%.

The average glass bottle and container import price stood at $911 per tonne in 2020, dropping by -1.8% against the previous year. Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Italy ($2,094 per tonne), while the price for Turkey ($387 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. Last year, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Poland, while the prices for the other significant suppliers experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Platform


The Fall in Demand for Furniture Should Stop MDF Price Rally in the United States

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. – MDF – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Prices for MDF in the U.S. continue to shoot up amid a shortage of the product and the high demand from the furniture industry. Other factors that led to the jump in prices include the high cost of woody materials and resins for manufacturing MDF as well as increasing container freight rates. Strong demand for the product has led to a spike in imports to the U.S. High prices for MDF negatively affect furniture sales, which have been decreasing in recent months due to a slowdown in the construction boom noted at the first half of the year. The fall in demand for furniture, coupled with the beginning of a decline in the cost of wood raw materials should lead to a decrease in prices for MDF in the coming months.

Key Trends and Insights

While the cost of sawnwood is rapidly declining, the price of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) in the U.S. continues to rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the producer price for MDFs produced on the domestic market increased by 8.4% from June to July of this year. July 2021 prices exceeded those from the same period in 2020 by 30.3%.

The reason for the spike in prices was the shortage of MDF in the American domestic market, which arose amid the high demand for furniture. In the first half of 2021, total furniture sales and home furniture stores in the U.S. grew by 38% compared to the same period in 2020.

Another significant factor was the noticeable rise in the cost of basic resources used to manufacture MDF, such as resins and woody materials. The producer price for thermoplastic resins in July 2021 increased by 63% compared to July 2020, while the price of thermosetting resins rose by 11.8% in the same period.

The jump in freight rates due to the lack of container traffic has had a significant impact on the final cost of MDF. According to the data from the Baltic Stock Exchange and the Freightos company group, the global container freight index of spot sea freight rates for 40-foot containers peaked in August 2021 and exceeded $10K.

The U.S. remains the world’s largest importer of MDF. Strong demand stimulated imports of MDF into America., which doubled from 2019 to 2020 and reached 2.3M m3. Canada, Chile, and Germany provide about 66% of all MDF imports to the U.S.

Due to steep prices, American wood-based product manufacturers have made huge profits this year. One of the largest producers of processed wood building materials in the U.S., Boise Cascade Co, reported a net income of $303M in the second quarter of 2021, which was 9 times the net income taken in for the second quarter of 2020. UFP Industries, Inc. posted a positive financial result, which took in record net earnings of $173M, a 161% increase compared to the same period in 2020.

The high prices for MDF are set to elevate the cost of furniture, reducing demand for it. While producer prices for commercial and household furniture rose by an average of 2% per month from May to July this year, total sales of furniture stores fell from $12.3B to $ 1.9B. Combined with the declining cost of woody materials for manufacturing MDF, the drop in demand for furniture should trigger a decrease in prices for MDF in the coming months.

American MDF Imports

In 2020, approx. 2.3M cubic meters of MDF were imported into the U.S.; growing by +32% compared with 2019. In value terms, MDF imports expanded by +4.6% y-o-y to $1.1B (IndexBox estimates) in 2020.

Canada (570K cubic meters), Chile (500K cubic meters) and Germany (431K cubic meters) were the main suppliers of MDF imports to the U.S., together comprising 66% of total imports. China, Brazil, Austria, Turkey, Viet Nam, New Zealand, Argentina and Mexico lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 27%.

In physical terms, Canadian MDF shipments to the U.S. grew by +22% y-o-y, while the American purchases from Germany increased twofold. Chile saw an 8%-growth of exports to the U.S.

In value terms, the largest MDF suppliers to the U.S. were Chile ($252M), Canada ($245M) and Germany ($203M), with a combined 66% share of total imports.

These countries were followed by China, Brazil, Austria, Viet Nam, New Zealand, Argentina, Turkey and Mexico, which together accounted for a further 26%.

The average MDF import price stood at $462 per cubic meter in 2020, with a decrease of -20.8% against the previous year. There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major supplying countries. In 2020, the country with the highest price was Austria ($644 per cubic meter), while the price for Turkey ($265 per cubic meter) was amongst the lowest. In 2020, the most notable price growth was attained by Chile, while the prices for the other major suppliers experienced a decline.

Source: IndexBox Platform


How Sustainable Practices Can Bolster the Global Economy

Consumer demand for sustainable products is at an all-time high, likely due to a growing understanding of how consumption and energy use can impact the environment. In response, businesses are prioritizing sustainable practices and committing to goals to reduce consumption of resources, production of carbon emissions and generation of waste products.

While discussions of sustainability often center on the cost of sustainable practices, they could also be a major driver of growth for markets around the world. This is how eco-friendly practices could bolster the global economy as sustainability becomes a top business priority over the next few years.

Low-Waste Manufacturing and Safeguarding Raw Materials

Often, a key benefit of new sustainable technologies is their ability to reduce waste. They help manufacturers do more with less, reduce costs and ensure the availability of resources in the future.

For example, additive technologies, like 3D printing, are generating interest partly because they produce very little waste compared to conventional manufacturing. The process of adding material to a base via printing, rather than cutting it away to create the desired shape, makes it easier to minimize the by-product a project generates.

The growing availability of sustainable printing materials, like wood and metal, means manufacturers can also use 3D printing to mass-produce items with minimal waste.

These goods can also be more sustainable than those produced traditionally.

Some research has also found that 3D printing can use less energy than conventional manufacturing techniques, further reducing the environmental footprint. By reducing waste and resource consumption, sustainability may help manufacturers reduce costs and secure a competitive advantage.

Other manufacturing approaches look to recapture existing waste or find ways to turn it into resources other businesses may overlook. Reclaimed and recycled materials are an increasingly popular method for making manufacturing processes more sustainable.

Even as raw materials become more expensive, businesses can keep costs low by finding ways to take advantage of used materials that were set to go to landfills.

Practices that conserve limited raw materials in the first place can also safeguard future profits. Sustainable aquaculture can help fishermen limit resource consumption while avoiding overharvesting, which can result in smaller hauls and lower available revenue in the future. Sustainable lobster fishing uses techniques like v-notching — the marking of female lobsters with eggs — and trap size limits to preserve a population large enough to meet current and future demand.

In most industries, the availability of future resources will be dependent on current resource use to one extent or another. Sustainable resource generation and low-waste manufacturing are essential for businesses wanting to secure future growth.


Creating New Markets With Innovative Sustainable Products

Some products also create new opportunities for consumers. Many of these sustainable items are driving significant growth and reinvigorating markets that have been struggling over the past few years.

One of the best examples of these products is the e-bike, a transportation option often recommended to people wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. Unlike electric vehicles, which are typically thought of as a sustainable alternative to conventional cars, e-bikes create a sustainable transportation option that fills a formerly neglected demand niche.

These bikes are outfitted with a small electric motor and battery. They offer improved mobility and range over a standard bicycle, without the high speed or mechanical complexity of a vehicle like a moped or motorcycle.

In areas where environmental factors make bike travel impractical — like steep hills or long distances between important locations — e-bikes may still function as an effective means of travel. Also, because they can be plugged into any standard outlet, users in areas without EV infrastructure can adopt the bikes without worrying about running out of charge.

There is significant evidence that demand for e-bikes is one of the primary drivers behind the growth in bicycling right now. As imports of pedal-only bikes tanked in 2019 and 2020, there was an explosive increase in e-bike demand. Estimates of the market growth often have it on track to grow noticeably faster than the bike market in the near future, and some observers predict these bikes will eclipse standard options in the next few years.

For people living in or returning to cities and other population-dense areas, transportation options like e-bikes are likely to become much more popular. While bikes aren’t always an effective transportation option, e-bikes may mean consumers won’t have to turn to gas-powered methods — like public transit, conventional cars or mopeds — to get around.

Reducing Resource Consumption

The ongoing pivot to sustainable practices is also changing how and where businesses operate. One of the most significant changes has been in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Companies and architectural firms are starting to take advantage of innovative design techniques and new smart technology to reduce the resources needed to keep new buildings operational.

For example, whole-building design techniques change how structures are organized to save money or reduce energy consumption. Clever window placement can significantly increase the amount of natural lighting an office receives. This can make a building more pleasant for its occupants and reduce electricity costs.

Smart lighting systems, which can automatically adjust artificial sources based on the time of day and how much natural light a room is receiving, can optimize things even further.

Similar design strategies can help businesses cut down water usage or optimize an HVAC system. According to some industry experts, the use of high-performance HVAC equipment can result in cost cuts, emissions reductions and energy savings of up to 40% or more.

Whole-building design techniques can offer greater savings while also reducing the amount of work HVAC systems need to perform to keep a building comfortable. This can reduce the wear and tear in normal operations, meaning components may not have to be replaced or repaired as often.

Sustainability Is Driving Growth Around the World

In the near future, sustainable practices will be key drivers of business growth.

The more mindful use of resources will help ensure businesses minimize waste and keep raw materials available well into the future. New building design strategies will make offices and factories more comfortable and efficient, reducing resource consumption while boosting productivity.

Sustainable business strategies may also meet customer demands that were previously being ignored, such as the use of e-bikes. All these practices will help drive the economy to new heights and help the planet at the same time, something that benefits everyone.