US brick and block demand to reach 12.4 billion units in 2014

By Richard High16 September 2010

Demand for brick and block products is projected to increase nearly +12% annually to 12.4 billion units, worth US$ 8 billion, in 2014, according to the latest study by US-based market research company The Freedonia Group.

The expected recovery in building construction, specifically residential construction, said the report, will drive growth in the US construction sector.

Consumption of clay brick products, added the report, tends to be concentrated in residential markets, reflecting the heavy use of clay brick as a siding material in new home construction. In 2009, demand for clay brick was very low -- less than one-half the 2004 level -- due to the ongoing severe contraction in new housing construction.

As residential construction, particularly new single-family housing, rebounds through 2014, said the report, demand for clay brick will benefit, +15% annually to 8.2 billion units in 2014, a "considerable improvement" over the weak performance of 2009, but still below the record level of 2004, added the report.

The report said demand for concrete brick and block products is projected to increase +6.9% annually to 4.3 billion units in 2014. Although the majority of demand will remain concentrated in non-residential markets, the most significant growth opportunities will derive from the recovery in the housing market, it added.

This will benefit concrete brick used in siding, paving and landscaping applications and concrete pavers. Much slower gains will occur in structural and decorative concrete block products, which are more heavily reliant on non-residential construction.

Aggregate brick and block pricing rose sharply in 2004-2009, said the report, reflecting high energy costs. The report stressed that while average prices for each product group will rise through 2014, these increases will be less dramatic than in the previous period.

However, because growth through 2014 will be heavily concentrated in lower unit cost clay brick, aggregate prices will remain flat.

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