EU steel-using sector output detaches from consumption

Consumption by typical steel using industries in Europe has been lagging behind their actual output levels in recent years, according to a German consultant.

The thesis was delivered by Roland Döhrn, professor of economics at the University of Duisburg-Essen, in a presentation on Thursday at distributors association EUROMETAL’s Steel Trade Day in Düsseldorf.

Döhrn compared the relation between steel consumption and production by steel users as it used to be before 2021, and how it has developed since. According to his findings, the relationship was relatively stable from 2014 and 2021, with minor deviations that were balanced over time. But “after 2021, this correlation disappears; we see increasing production at steel users but decreasing steel consumption by them,” Kallanish heard Döhrn say at the event.

He referred to the EUROMETAL meeting in Porto last spring, where this observation was discussed among participants, but without a clear clue on the cause. “We were wondering if it has to do with stock cycle, and had other ideas, but did not find an answer,” Döhrn said.

For one thing, it could have to do with production patterns: lightweighting efforts would result in lower steel intake, as would a change of materials for certain parts. In construction, the share of existing property refurbishment may have gone up versus new building, which primarily needs steel. Import patterns, too, will play a role. Steel users seem to be increasingly importing finished parts and components from overseas.

If Döhrn’s observations indicate a trend, “the future production of steel users will be less reflected in the steel market,” he concluded.

Christian Koehl Germany