Market Overview

The aluminium value chain is well represented in Europe and its 2017 data show a positive outlook for primary production and a growing demand for aluminium products across a range of strategic applications. However, serious excess capacity on global markets, strict EU regulations and challenges in accessing aluminium scrap are exerting pressure on the industry.


2017 in figures

History of primary aluminium production

Main producing countries and regions 1950 - 2017

  • Europe
  • USA
  • China
  • Other

Positive outlook (+1.7%) for primary production in Europe for 2017

In 2017, primary aluminium production in Europe (EU28+EFTA) increased by 1.7%. This increase materialised both in EU28 and EFTA, although growth in EU28 production was more modest. We expect a similar evolution during 2018, driven by strong demand for aluminium in Europe in many applications and most end-use markets.

At a global level, China represents more than 55% of total production. Europe represents about 8% of global production, around half of which comes from within the EU.


EU imports dependency is stable but still at a high level (48%) in 2017

EU still imports approximately 50 per cent of its aluminium ingots requirements. Major exporters to European countries are Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Mozambique. Domestic production is fulfilled through the continuous increase of recycled production (+1.6 per cent) and a slight increase of the primary production, as highlighted above.


Primary production
Total recycling

EU exports of aluminium scrap remains at high level

In 2017, EU exported around 906,000 tonnes of aluminium scrap (HS 7602). This represents a slight decrease of 3.8 per cent compared to the 2016 outlook. However, since 2002, EU is a net exporter of aluminium scrap. About 80 per cent of this is exported to Asia, principally China, India and Pakistan.

EU exports of scrap

Continuous increase (+3%) of Flat-Rolled products demand in 2017

Data has confirmed the continuous increase in demand for semi-fabricated aluminium (products obtained from the processing of aluminium ingots which must undergo further processing before being used in final applications) in Europe during 2017. The growing demand (+3 per cent) for Flat Rolled Products (FRP) was driven mainly by transport (particularly automotive) and packaging. Together, both markets represent more than 60 per cent of the FRP market.

  • Packaging
  • Foilstock
  • Transport
  • Building and Construction
  • Technical applications
  • Consumer goods
  • Stockists
Flat Rolled Products

Strong increase of extrusion demand (+4.5%) in 2017


For extrusion, the positive outlook for 2017 (+4.5 per cent) was principally driven by strong growth in transport (particularly automotive) and industry sectors and a recovery of the building and construction sector in several European countries.

To sum up, the EU is a net importer of semis for both FRP and extrusion (i.e. around-400 kt for both semis). The main exporter to Europe is China.

  • Transport
  • General engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Building and construction
  • Consumers goods
  • Others
  • Stockists

Aluminium production value chain in Europe

There is a well-implemented aluminium value chain in Europe, with more than 600 plants ranging from raw materials (e.g. bauxite and alumina), primary metal production, semi-fabrication (e.g. rolling and extrusion) and recycling. Smelters and rolling mills are often part of multinationals, while the majority of the plants involved in extrusion and recycling are small to medium enterprises. All serve as important actors within local communities. Not shown on this map but equally important to the aluminium value chain are further downstream plants, including building systems houses, aluminium casting manufacturers and foil-manufacturing plants.



Driving change