Spanish Slate Growing Market Share

Spain is the number one slate producer of Natural Roofing Slate in the world, with an Export volume exceeding 80% of slate extracted in Galicia and Castilla y Léon (quarries). The volume of business in the area gives jobs directly to more than 3,500 people and indirectly to 12,000 people. With an export market of around 300 million, Spain has a major influence on slate.

Spanish Slate Growth in the USA

This chart shows the monthly Spanish exports to various countries. The easiest way to read the chart is to multiply the tons by the average € price to get a total. Looking at the United States in the month of August, Spain exported 578 tons of slate at 661€ per ton = 382,000€ in sales. This would be roughly $420,000 USD for the month of August. (Click on the chart for full view)

The total US import market from Spain in ’18 was roughly 5 million USD.

If the Spanish export total thru the month of August is $3.9 million, this would estimate to $5.85 million for the total year. This is roughly a 17% increase due to more slate being sold at a slightly higher price.

A final perspective is that France has taken 146 thousand tons for the first 8 months this year, which is roughly 6,000 containers or 750 per month. The USA has taken 6 thousand tons, which is about 250 containers or 30 a month. Think of that difference. 

Substitutes for PA Black

With Pennsylvania quarries production decreasing, it’s not a surprise to see the slate import market from Spain increase. Spanish black, along with North Country, Virginia, and Vermont, all serve as substitutes for PA black. As the life span of PA black is running out, black slate will remain in demand.

Understanding the foreign influence of the slate market is important because it is not going to go away. France is a $150+ million dollar import market for Spain. These are not small companies and they will look at the USA as a country of growth with nearly 350 million people. Going further into why our slate market is fragile will require another post, but Spanish companies are doing their best to educate the US customer base.

Be Natural is one of these companies who understand this important of disseminating information. Here are a few of their marketing videos that are efforts at educating the slate market.

Educational Videos

A Global Economy

Spanish slate is being imported by distributors in the US and will serve to supplement the slate demand for black slate. As the world gets smaller because of technology and the ability to communicate, it’s important to adapt to new products. More slate on roofs moving forward is good for the industry. The goal is not to lose slate roofs to synthetic material and the more options available will help this cause.