MPA reports falling demand in GB for heavy-side building materials in 2019

MPA reports falling demand in GB for heavy-side building materials in 2019
06 February 2020

Demand for heavy-side building materials in Great Britain, including aggregates, asphalt, ready-mixed concrete and mortar, has been weak throughout 2019, claims the Mineral Products Association (MPA). With demand failing to pick up again in the final quarter of the year, sales volumes for these materials were lower in 2019 compared to 2018, down 3.9  per cent for ready-mixed concrete, -2.2 per cent for aggregates, -1.7 per cent for mortar and -0.8 per cent for asphalt.

Declining markets provide tangible evidence of weakening UK construction activity, corroborating a range of business surveys, says MPA. Mortar is mainly used in housebuilding. Sales volumes for this material declined by 8.6 per cent in the final quarter of 2019 compared to the previous quarter, the sharpest quarterly fall since mid-2012. Mortar sales volumes have now declined in six of the last eight quarters, a clear indication of housebuilding activity running out of steam, says MPA.

Ready-mixed concrete sales have now declined for three consecutive years, driven by weak demand in London and the southeast, where both housebuilding and commercial construction work slowed. There were nonetheless some brighter spots in the West Midlands and the southwest throughout the year, where ready-mixed concrete sales have been supported by infrastructure work, including HS2 enabling works and Hinkley Point C.

Linked to general road activity, growth prospects for asphalt sales in recent years have been geared primarily toward supplying for the Highways England's five-year Road Investment Strategy programme, which originally included 112 projects to be completed over 2015-20. However, continued delays due to management and funding issues have impacted on project delivery, and, as a result, asphalt sales volumes in 2019 remained broadly flat since 2016.

The prospects for heavy side building materials markets in 2020 remain weak, explains Aurelie Delannoy, Director of Economic Affairs at the MPA. All indicators suggest that UK construction and its supply chain will have to wait for 2021 for growth to slowly resume, provided work in the roads, rail and energy sectors accelerate as planned.

Published under Cement News