China’s largest annual stone exhibition, Stonetech, was held at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing from March 4 to 7. Stonetech’s location alternates each year between Beijing and Shanghai, and this year’s event drew a solid crowd, especially considering the timing of the event, taking place immediately prior to the Xiamen Stone Fair. The number of exhibitors at this year’s event was higher than the last Stonetech held in Beijing, which necessitated the addition of one new pavilion that was mainly added to accommodate Chinese equipment manufacturers.
Most of the attendees were from mainland China - 79% according to show organizers - and another 3% came from neighboring Asian nations and territories: Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. The largest group of attendees from outside of Asia came from the U.S., followed by visitors from Europe (mainly Spain, Italy and Germany) and the Middle East. Of these visitors, show management states that 34% of attendees identified themselves as stone processors, 13.5% were builders or decorators and another 13% classified themselves as importers/exporters. Their goal was clear, because according to survey results approximately 75% of attendees visited exhibitors classified as stone suppliers (slabs, blocks or decorative items), while only around 12% visited exhibitors that showcased machinery or tools. This figure was somewhat ironic, given the fact that more machines were on exhibit than in years past, including two pavilions dedicated to these displays. A total of 27% of the attendees stated that their purpose for visiting the fair was to purchase material and/or equipment.
Foreign participation was well defined, with pavilions of companies grouped by country, making it easy to find exhibitors from Turkey, for example, which occupied the largest of the foreign pavilions. There were organized pavilions for exhibitors from Italy, Brazil, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Spain and a group from Norway and Finland. A few North American quarriers also exhibited, promoting block sales. Overall, there were 816 exhibitors at this year’s exhibition, up from 798 in Shanghai last year.
Several Chinese manufacturers were introducing new stones and new products. Some of the more interesting materials on display were a range of Chinese marbles that appear similar to travertines from Europe and a few granites that resemble colors from Brazil. But the majority of Chinese stone exhibitors were displaying imported stones from Brazil, Spain, Italy, Greece, Scandinavia and many other countries. In many cases, Chinese exhibitors had part of their stand dedicated to domestic materials and another section dedicated to overseas materials they market.
Overall, Stonetech 2007 in Beijing was a strong show that had a solid international feel. Some foreign travelers who visited the fair expressed hope that the show would stay in Shanghai, where there is more of a local stone industry, but this move is unlikely in the short term. Show organizers seem committed to the current format of alternating cities. Next year’s event will be held April 8 to 11 in Shanghai.