Facing a paradox while looking ahead to better times | by Andrea Serri
The Italian ceramic tile industry finds itself in one of the most paradoxical situations in its history. On the one hand, it is flooded with orders for its products from Italy and other countries around the world; on the other, it is facing huge increases in the costs of all production factors, particularly energy, while some raw materials and services are simply unavailable.
One of the legacies of the global period of lockdown is greater attention to the safety and hygiene of our homes and workplaces, with frequent cleaning and sanitisation now a primary concern. Italian ceramic tiles offer a perfect solution to these needs thanks to their technical and physical characteristics along with other properties such as durability, inertia, non-absorbency and fire resistance. The global market appreciates Italian ceramic tile because it is a modern material that gives a distinctive personality and value to the surfaces where it is used while at the same time offering exceptional green credentials.
Another legacy of the post-lockdown period is the robust growth in the global economy, which has expanded by 5.8% overall in 2021 although actual growth levels have varied across different countries and continents. This expansion has pushed up the prices of all production factors, driven by strong demand and in some cases speculation. The cost of natural gas is now around 400% higher than in the pre-pandemic period due to rising demand in China along with a series of geopolitical factors, while some raw materials and logistics services can no longer be found on the market. This situation is placing a huge strain on business activities both in the ceramic industry and in other sectors.
It is to be hoped that in the coming year the Italian ceramic tile industry’s outstanding demand-side performance will not be impacted by high energy prices or other critical issues. This will not only safeguard high-quality employment in Italy, but will also give consumers all over the world the opportunity to appreciate the beauty and value of products from the nation crowned by The Economist as “country of the year” for 2021.