Cement is as vital a commodity to fast-growing economies as oil or steel. No other material is as versatile when it comes to building houses, roads and big chunks of infrastructure. It is a huge business: the world’s cement-makers rake in revenues of $250 billion a year. Outside China, which accounts for half of global demand and production and is mainly served by local firms, six vast international firms—Buzzi, Cemex, Heidelberg, Holcim, Italcementi and Lafarge—together have 40% or so of the market. Yet the business rarely attracts much attention.
Cement is so costly to transport that it rarely travels more than 200 miles (320km) by road, so its markets tend to be local. Barriers to entry are high: a new cement works producing 1m tonnes a year, the smallest worth building, costs around $200m. It is much cheaper for an incumbent to expand. All this means the industry tends towards oligopolies, which periodically attract interest from regulators.
Global Concrete and Cement Market – Key Trends and Opportunities to 2017 research report says worldwide market value for concrete and cement industry was US$449.4 billion in 2012. The Asia-Pacificregion was the largest regional market and accounted for 58.1% of the global market. The Asia-Pacific concrete and cement market valued US$261.1 billion in 2012, recording a CAGR of 14.78% during the review period, outperforming all other regional markets. China constituted the largest share of the regional market, with a 71.4% share in 2012. With a value of US$193.9 billion and a 43.2% market share in 2012, Portland cement was the largest category in the global concrete and cement market. Ready-mix concrete was the second-largest category in 2012.
The Indian cement sector is expected to witness positive growth in the coming years, with demand set to increase at a CAGR of more than 8 per cent in the period FY 2013-14 to FY 2015-16, according to the latest report titled ‘Indian Cement Industry Outlook 2016’ by market research consulting firm RNCOS.
The cement and gypsum products sector has attracted foreign direct investments (FDI) worth US$ 2,656.29 million in the period April 2000–August 2013, according to data published by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).