Spanish glaze and frit producers concerned about raw material costs

Increases of up to 320% are threatening companies’ profitability and R&D investments .

Joaquín Font de Mora

The Spanish ceramic frit, glaze and colour producers are becoming increasingly concerned about their ability to remain profitable in the face of steadily increasing costs of essential raw materials, energy and transport.

As reported by the chairman of the industry’s trade association ANFFECC, Joaquín Font de Mora, key components of glaze and colour formulations have seen double or triple digit price rises over the past 12 months.

“The price of cobalt oxide has increased by 210%, praseodymium oxide by 320%, zirconium oxide by 90%, zirconium silicate by 75%, chromium oxide and barium carbonate by 80%, zinc oxide and titanium oxide by around 60%, and quartz, kaolin and feldspars by between 40% and 60%,” says Font de Mora.

Raw materials represent one of the Spanish colour manufacturers’ biggest costs and are all imported and difficult to replace with other materials. Moreover, the fact that they are listed on international stock markets means that their prices fluctuate unpredictably. But as ANFFECC states,

“sometimes it is the producers themselves who limit supplies with the aim of intentionally distorting the market”.

These increases, compounded by soaring energy costs,

“are creating uncertainty and are having a direct impact both on the balance sheets of industry companies and on their ability to invest in R&D”, says Font de Mora. “The dollar-euro exchange rate is also not helping, with the stronger US dollar making our purchases in this currency more expensive.”