Like many building material industries, the global market for fiber cement – which totaled 28.1 million metric tons in 2018 – is relatively mature, predictable, and led by the usual suspects: India, China, and the US. However, from asbestos bans changing the material composition of fiber cement products, to product innovation leading to more intensive use of alternatives at fiber cement’s expense, a number of developments in these countries will continue to affect the ebb and flow of the global market through 2023 and beyond.
What can industry participants expect? To give a sense, here are some highlights from Global Fiber Cement, a study from The Freedonia Group that analyzes key trends in these markets and more.
As both the largest consumer and producer of fiber cement, India is at the center of the global market. Widely employed as a low-cost roofing material in the country – which continues to permit asbestos in building products – fiber cement is used more intensively relative to construction spending in India than the Asia/Pacific average. And the massive scale of the country’s housing stock – second globally only to China – provides expansive sales opportunity for fiber cement producers.
Through 2023, India’s fiber cement market will grow at a rate above both the global and Asia/Pacific average, driven by:
- having among the fastest anticipated growth in nonresidential building construction in the world
- above average housing construction growth
- efforts to update India’s building stock through the addition of fiber cement building products
- United States
The US is one of few wealthy nations to permit some use of asbestos, including in some fiber cement products. While campaigns to fully ban the carcinogenic additive are underway – and public perception of asbestos is overwhelmingly negative – such efforts have yet to succeed, and given current political conditions, that seems unlikely to change in the near term.
Fiber cement siding is used heavily in the US because of its aesthetic appeal and strong performance properties – particularly in siding applications, by far the largest source of fiber cement demand due to the fact that siding is installed on virtually every building in the country.
Going forward, US fiber cement demand will grow at one of the fastest rates worldwide, supported by:
- sustained growth in residential building construction
- increases in nonresidential building construction
- increased use of fiber cement in both residential and nonresidential buildings due to its aesthetic, performance, and cost advantages relative to other materials
Similar to India, China’s position as the second largest fiber cement market worldwide is a result of its size – being the largest country in the world in terms of population and building stock. Despite banning use of asbestos in siding and wall construction materials in 2011, the country has seen demand for fiber cement siding more than double over the last decade.
Nevertheless, intensity of fiber cement usage relative to construction spending remains below average for the Asia/Pacific region because a sizable share of buildings in the country are unsophisticated and do not use modern building products like siding. That’s changing, however, in part due to rising consumer incomes.
Going forward, growth opportunities are expected to remain strong, particularly for fiber cement siding due to:
- rising construction spending
- the increasing share of buildings installing siding in the country and the expanding share of siding demand held by fiber cement
- the durability and ability of fiber cement to imitate the appearance of more expensive siding products
Want to Learn More?
For in-depth analysis of these and other global fiber cement markets, see Global Fiber Cement and a number of other construction industry studies recently produced by Freedonia Group’s Construction & Building Products Group.