EU plate distributors hope customers will accept hikes

The enormous surge in European plate prices seen since December will in many cases still have to be brought home to consumers downstream.

Distributors believe they will largely be able to hand down prices. But they are aware this is not absolutely understood and plate customers could remain reserved. They therefore do not expect a run on plate to the degree seen on strip products.

Now that mills’ prices have surged by €200/tonne ($242) in not even two months, S235 grade plate is inching towards €700/t, and S355 is already there, or higher. “S355 in gauges of 10-40mm will fetch €720/t delivered for sure,” according to the owner of one German distributor. For thicknesses higher than that, one will easily have to add €30, he says. “Our customers have not yet reflected those surges, but they will in the course of February and March,” he believes.

Another manager tells Kallanish that most colleagues at distributors these days work with daily prices which they can adjust flexibly. “Some also hold back volumes and sizes, speculating that prices will rise further in the coming weeks,” he believes.

However, he warns that “…many customers are not bedded softly these days, following losses of business Covid-19 has caused.” Customers have placed orders for projects on fixed calculations, and now face costs that are much higher. This will be a big hurdle, for distributors to hand down prices, he tells Kallanish. “Mind you, for 1,000 tonnes you planned in early December you will have to pay some €200,000 more now. That’s big,” he says.