Experts in the U.S. construction industry know one thing to be true today: business is booming. Over the past year and a half, many Americans have turned their focus and financial resources to either buying a new home or remolding their existing one. In total, more than 50% of homes in the U.S. are selling for above asking price, while spending on home improvement and repairs climbed an estimated 3% in 2020 to $419 billion. This surge in demand isn’t slowing down either. In fact, it is predicted that by the end of 2021, the U.S. construction sector will have grown 15.6% YoY.
As construction companies experience high demand for their services, what would usually be a welcome surge in business for contractors and builders has turned into a perplexing issue amid a global container shortage that has made sourcing materials essential to building or remodeling homes – like stone and ceramic – very difficult to come by for American construction companies. Currently, builders are finding themselves forced to inaction as they wait for materials to work their way through bottlenecks in the shipping and logistics process, leading to delayed timelines and, often times, unsatisfied customers.
Industry professionals hoping to circumvent these hurdles should be – and are – proactively looking to source their materials from alternate sources. One geography well positioned to deliver ornamental stone and ceramic tile – and may be surprising to some – is Brazil. Here are just a few of the reasons U.S. construction companies are increasingly turning to Brazil as a source for these materials:
Brazil’s unique geographic characteristics yield distinctive materials
Brazil’s rich geological characteristics make it one of the most diverse areas in the world for producers to mine brightly colored and remarkable stones and ceramics for export. The country’s unique mineral makeup, in particular, helps to cultivate a wide variety of materials for international buyers to choose from. In fact, Brazilian ornamental stones can be composed of more than 1,200 natural materials, and numerous individual variations of ceramic tile are also available to producers throughout the country.
What’s more, Brazil offers materials that satisfy a wide range of existing demand, regardless of the buyer’s price range. Take Santa Cecilia, for instance, a yellow-toned granite that is very popular among U.S. construction companies. Other classic Brazilian hard surfaces, including Ubatuba, an affordable option for U.S. buyers, and Blue Bahia, a luxury granite named after its distinctive color, are known to be sourced from Brazil and are readily available to U.S. construction professionals.
The country’s stone and ceramics industries are some of the most sustainable
As a country, Brazil is dedicated to preserving and cultivating its natural beauty in tandem with promoting sustainable development. While Brazilian exports of stone and ceramic tile have increased over the past year, producers and exporters alike have been held to high environmental standards when mining and shipping these materials. In fact, producers of ornamental rocks hold environmental licenses and have initiated self-sustainable production processes, including meeting a 95% water reuse index and utilizing rainwater collection, when working and mining in Brazilian quarries. Additionally, the Brazilian ornamental stone industry consumes a low amount of energy to manufacture each square meter of material, and all processing residues must be correctly disposed of in licensed deposits.
The popularity of Brazil’s hard surfaces have surged over the past year
Given Brazil’s unique geographic characteristics and the sustainable nature of the country’s hard surfaces, it’s no surprise that demand for stone and ceramic tiles has boomed over the past year. In fact, our data shows that from January to June of this year, Brazilian export of stones to the U.S. grew 48%, almost doubling from the same period in 2020. In addition, exports of ceramic tiles to the U.S. grew 16% in volume during this period, reaching record highs not seen since 2011. These numbers are evidence that when faced with an increasingly high demand for their materials, Brazilian producers are willing and able to fill orders despite the supply chain difficulties worldwide.
This past year and a half has undoubtably been a tricky one for all those involved in global exports and logistics. The timing of the construction boom in the U.S., when compounded with the pandemic and global container shortage, has created an imbalance of supply and demand that U.S. construction companies have found challenging to work around. This is exactly why U.S. construction professionals who are hoping to source quality materials should seriously consider turning their attention to Brazil. By doing so, they might find themselves with a strategic advantage to maintain and expand their businesses in the coming years.