German beam market business bypasses stockholders

The market for beams in Germany and is busy and healthy, but the amount of cross-border activity continues to grow, according to Andreas Schneider of Stahlmarkt Consult.

At the recent beams and sections conference organised by German steel distributors’ federation BDS, Schneider revealed that the stockholders’ share in the business is continuing to fall. In 2017, sales from stockholders were at around 1.1 million tonnes, which is -8% below the level of 2014, and a considerable -27% less than in 2007. This trend is in clear contrast with the rising production index of Germany’s industries, the analyst said at the conference attended by Kallanish.

It is also in marked contrast with the main domestic section producers Salzgitter, ArcelorMittal and Stahlwerk Thüringen, where production levels have remained stable and strong over the last four years.  Overall market supply has continued to grow since 2013, following the year-long decline after the financial crisis.

One cause of this imbalance is an increase in export from and imports into Germany, both of which rose simultaneously by around 7% from 2015 to 2017. Exports continue to exceed imports, to the tune of 1.5 million tonnes of the former versus 1.05mt of the latter.  Imports come mainly from EU neighbours, with Luxembourg supplying the lion’s share.

Another explanation for the fall in business at stockists is that more mills are supplying end-users directly. Many sections are also actually processed and sold by stockholders as structural components, and as such disappear from the statistics. That would mean higher added value for the stockholder, despite a decline in the tonnage of unfabricated sections sold.