Despite the ongoing COVID pandemic, the EU stainless steel industry was able to record a solid start to 2021. Order intakes remain at healthy levels and some price increases have finally been realized, albeit unfortunately to a lower extent than necessary.
Demand is being driven by restocking of the stainless supply chain as well as increased requirements from selected sectors. However, a very important supportive trend which should not be underestimated is the significant decline in import penetration of the European market for stainless steel. This has resulted mainly from logistical constraints: either means of transportation are limited or just not available, or freight costs simply do not justify shipping into Europe.
As a result, demand for stainless scrap has remained healthy and in line with supply.
Availability of scrap has increased too as sourcing has been supported by the ferrous price rally as well as higher nickel values. However, ferrous scrap prices corrected significantly at the beginning of February, thus heading into an unclear future.