Web Exclusive: Indian Stone in the U.S. -- a look at the last five years
November 13, 2008
For quite some time, India has enjoyed a position as a world leader in the international stone industry and a top supplier to the U.S. market. And over the past five years, India's stone producers have worked to increase the presence of Indian stone in the U.S., where it is a popular choice for residential and commercial projects in a broad range of materials and applications.
According to the Centre for Development of Stones (CDOS) in Jaipur, India, more than 31 million tons of stone are produced in India each year. The organization also reports that India is the third largest exporter of stone in the world, behind China and Italy.
In the U.S. marketplace, imports of Indian stone have risen steadily over the past five years, with the exception of 2007. According to figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. imported $139.69 million worth of stone from India in 2003 -- an all-time high at the time. By 2006, that total more than doubled to reach a figure of $287.13 million. Last year, Indian stone exports to the U.S. were poised to once again reach a record total, but American market declines during the second half of 2007 resulted in a year-end figure of $268.38 million -- about 6.5% down from the previous year.
For the first quarter of 2008, U.S. imports of stone from India dropped 7% when compared to the same period in 2007 (when the market was still strong), and while no dramatic decreases are forecast for the remainder of the year, a complete rebound also appears to be unlikely this year. Based on first-quarter figures, the U.S. projects to import $238.78 million worth of stone from India in 2008 (an 11% decline from 2007), although this figure is obviously subject to change over the course of the year.
But even with these declines in mind, India remains a vital stone supplier to the U.S. market. It ranks as the fourth leading exporter of granite to the U.S-. - behind Brazil, China and Italy. India is also a major exporter of slate to the U.S.; it exported more slate to the U.S. than any other nation over the past five years, although it was second to China in 2007.
Granite and the residential sectorAs expected, the majority of stone exported from India to the U.S. is granite. And given the explosive growth in granite kitchen countertops, much of the granite being brought into the U.S. is in slab format.
Fitting homeowner preferences for material in tones of gold, tan, beige, off-white, green and other earth tones, Indian granites are being specified for a broad range of kitchen and bathroom designs -- from sleek modern decors to traditional "Tuscan" kitchens.
Virtually all stone showrooms include Indian granite as a staple of their collections, and new materials are continually being introduced to the marketplace.
U.S. imports of Indian granite grew from a value of $97.26 million in 2003 to a record high of $220.29 million in 2006. Last year, that total dipped to $204.07 million, and granite imports for the first quarter of 2008 look to be down about 10% from the same period a year ago.
Still, even if declines continue as expected, the use of Indian granite is still far more than it was only three years ago.
Indian slateThe second-leading stone export from India to the U.S. is slate, the bulk of which is in a tile format. Slate from India is being used for a wide variety of flooring applications, from retail interiors to residential patios. The material is often employed with a natural cleft finish, and its earth tones are favored for a range of design styles. Also adding visual interest, the stone is being offered in a range of tile formats, from standard 12- x 12-inch tiles to larger sizes of 24 x 24 inches to random patterns.
In addition to floors, tiles of Indian slate are being employed as building cladding -- including some prominent civil projects -- and they are sometimes being adhered to building exteriors using adhesives rather than mechanical fastening.
Over the past five years, slate imports increased from $31.21 million in 2003 to $47.31 million in 2007 (down about 10% from an all-time high of $52.42 million in 2006).
Other materialsWhile granite and slate comprise most of the Indian stone imports into the U.S., other materials have also played a significant role in the American market. These include marble, sandstone and quartzite.
Annual exports of Indian marble to the U.S. have hovered between a value of $10.5 million and $12 million over the past five years. In general, Indian marble has been used for residential and light commercial applications in the U.S., and popular colors are typically shades of green, white and tan.
In terms of large-scale architectural projects, Indian sandstone has been making some serious inroads in the U.S. over the past few years, particularly in the Southwestern region of the country. Major architectural firms have relied on the tan and rust shades of Indian sandstone to reflect the surrounding environments of landmark projects in the Southwest.
In Arizona, two fairly recent projects have utilized sandstone from India. These included the Tucson Airport, which utilized 40,000 square feet of Rainbow sandstone supplied through Southland Stone USA, Inc. of North Hollywood, CA; and the Phoenix Convention Center, which called for 35,000 square feet of three different Indian sandstone varieties supplied through Tab India/Amsum & Ash of Minneapolis, MN.
Perhaps one of the highest profile applications of Indian sandstone in recent years can be found in San Diego, CA. When baseball's San Diego Padres built a new stadium, renowned architect Antoine Predock selected Indian sandstone as exterior cladding. The architect noted that the material, which was named "Padre Gold," recalled the Torrey Pines cliffs of the San Diego coastline. In all, 150,000 square feet of sandstone from India was specified, and it was supplied through Stone A.V. USA, Inc., of Plano, TX and Modern Builders Supply. The ballpark opened to widespread praise, and in addition to sports fans, it has drawn industry interest in the form of a study tour conducted by the Building Stone Institute and a number of industry design awards.
TablesTotal U.S. Imports of Stone from India
- 2003 - $139.69 million
- 2004 - $205.82 million
- 2005 - $242.75 million
- 2006 - $287.13 million
- 2007 - $268.38 million
U.S. Imports of Granite from India
- 2003 - $97.26 million - 262,090 tons
- 2004 - $152.68 million - 367,359 tons
- 2005 - $181.64 million - 454,676 tons
- 2006 - $220.29 million - 602,907 tons
- 2007 - $204.07 million - 417,508 tons
U.S. Imports of Slate from India*
- 2003 - $31.21 million
- 2004 - $39.99 million
- 2005 - $47.54 million
- 2006 - $52.42 million
- 2007 - $47.31 million
U.S. Imports of Marble from India
- 2003 - $10.44 million - 23,958 tons
- 2004 - $12.26 million - 12,279 tons
- 2005 - $11.43 million - 12,994 tons
- 2006 - $12.08 million - 19,962 tons
- 2007 - $9.84 million - 8,937 tons
U.S. Imports of "Other" Stone from India
(sandstone, quartzite, etc.)
- 2003 - $781,825 - 1,904 tons
- 2004 - $887,237 - 2,586 tons
- 2005 - $2.14 million - 6,213 tons
- 2006 - $2.34 million - 9,331 tons
- 2007 - $7.16 million - 17,822 tons*