By Mark S. Kuhar
At the start of 2022, it was highly anticipated that aggregates production would rise to about 2.80 billion metric tons (Gt) for the year. Well, final numbers are in and the estimated annual output of construction aggregates produced for consumption in 2022 was 2.44 Gt, unchanged from that of 2021, according to Jason Christopher Willett, commodity specialist at the U.S. Geological Survey.
The estimated annual output of crushed stone produced for consumption in 2022 was 1.50 Gt unchanged from that of 2021. The estimated annual output of construction sand and gravel produced for consumption in 2022 was 937 million metric tons (Mt), essentially unchanged from that of 2021.
The estimated total annual production for consumption of construction aggregates in 2022 decreased compared with that in 2021, in 23 of the 50 states for which estimates were made. The five leading states were, in descending order of total annual output for 2022, Texas, California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Their combined total annual production for consumption was 741 Mt, a slight increase compared with that of 2021.
For the fourth quarter of 2022, an estimated 575 Mt of total construction aggregates was produced and shipped for consumption, a decrease of 7% compared with that of the same period of 2021.
An estimated 361 Mt of crushed stone was produced and shipped for consumption in the fourth quarter of 2022, a decrease of 7% compared with that of the same period of 2021. The estimated output of construction sand and gravel produced and shipped for consumption in the fourth quarter of 2022 was 214 Mt, a decrease of 9% compared with that of the same period of 2021.
So what went wrong? A quick look at the fourth quarter reports of some of the major publicly traded aggregates producers sheds some light on that. A crippling fourth quarter essentially doomed full-year aggregates production numbers.
- Vulcan Materials reported that aggregates segment gross profit increased in the fourth quarter despite lower shipments due mostly to unfavorable weather. Fourth quarter gross profit increased to $327 million, or $6.04 per ton; shipments declined 6%.
- Martin Marietta Materials reported that fourth-quarter aggregates shipments decreased 12.0%, largely due to inclement weather in a number of key markets compared to the unseasonably warm and dry prior-year period that extended 2021 construction activity.
- Summit Materials reported that organic aggregates sales volumes declined 12.0% driven by a combination of unfavorable weather conditions, supply-chain-related disruptions and moderating residential demand.
- Heidelberg Materials, in its latest quarterly report, noted that North American revenue was up 17.6% for the quarter and 7.8% for 2022, although aggregates sales volume was off 5.7% for the quarter and 5.0% for the year.
And that pretty much tells the tale.