US precast industry growth topped 5 % in 2013

Tracking closely with the overall growth in the construction industry, the precast concrete sector grew by 5.2 % in 2013, with total sales of $16.2 billion, according to the National Precast Concrete Association’s (NPCA) Benchmarking Report, an annual report commissioned by the association from an independent survey company.

The growth in the precast sector slightly outpaced the 4.8 % growth estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the value of construction in 2013. Precast manufacturers consumed 11 million t of cement in 2013, up from 10 million t the previous year. The manufacturers produced about 25 million m3 of concrete, the same as the previous year.

Stability needed

In the sub-categories tracked by the Benchmarking Report, three products showed significant increases over 2012. Utility buildings grew by 50 % to $526 million in sales and 2.8 % of the total market. Utility vaults, which are the largest single category, reported $2.7 billion in sales, growing about 5 % and encompassing 14.4 % of the overall market. Septic tanks and grease interceptors registered a combined 8 % increase, totaling $924 million in sales.

The problems funding highway work and infrastructure throughout the country are also reflected in this year’s Benchmarking Report. Box culverts and 3-sided structures retreated 13 % in sales to $688 million, while manhole sales dipped about 5 % to $1.4 billion.

“Highway work has been unstable,” said NPCA President Ty Gable. “However, this is a very diverse industry, and the wide range of products has helped us achieve some moderate growth. That upward trend should continue through 2014, and we’re seeing positive signs for 2015 as well.”

New market PCPS

Three emerging categories in the precast industry are the product lines of architectural wall panels, concrete pavers and precast concrete pavement systems. Architectural wall panels grew by 8 % to $752 million in sales and a 4.1 % share of the precast market. Concrete pavers, which were previously listed in the “other” category, have grown to become a $37 million segment of the overall market. The growing acceptance of PCPS by some DOTs across the country has created a new market with a turnover of $ 37 million.

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