Market Overview

Our 2018 data show that primary production in Europe is flat, despite a growing demand for aluminium products in a range of strategic applications. This is due to tensions on the aluminium supply chain caused by trade issues at global level. Serious excess capacity on global markets, strict EU regulations and challenges in accessing aluminium scrap are exerting additional pressures on the industry. For semi-fabricated products, however, we see continuous increases in production for Europe.


2018 in figures

History of primary aluminium production

Main producing countries and regions 1950 - 2017

  • Europe
  • USA
  • China
  • Other

Primary production in Europe remained flat in 2018

In 2018, primary aluminium production in Europe (EU28+EFTA) slightly decreased. This negative profile reflects considerable external pressures on the aluminium supply chain from global trade issues, which impacted the alumina and the primary smelting production. As a consequence, smelters located in EU28 were particularly affected by production decreases. The lack of affordable electricity prices may also place some smelters at a higher risk of closure in the foreseeable future.

In 2019, we expect that trade issues will continue to be a key challenge for European aluminium production. Meanwhile, aluminium demand in Europe will continue to be driven by growing demand in many applications and most end-use markets.


EU28 & EFTA each represent 50% of European primary aluminium production

There are 16 smelters in the EU, located in ten countries: FR, DE, GR, NL, ES, UK, RO, SK, SL

There are ten smelters in EFTA countries (Norway and Iceland)

China is responsible for around 57 percent of production globally. Europe represents about 7 percent, around half of which comes from within the EU28.

EU imports dependency is stable but remains high (48%) in 2018

EU28 still imports approximately 50 percent of its aluminium ingots requirements. Norway and Iceland, as part of the European Economic Area (EEA), are the largest exporters of primary aluminium to the EU. Other major exporters to European countries are Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Mozambique. Domestic production is fulfilled through both primary and recycled production.


Primary production
Total recycling

Strong increase (+7%) of EU exports of aluminium scrap in 2018

In 2018, the EU exported around 970,000 tonnes of aluminium scrap (HS 7602). This is an increase of 7 percent compared to 2017. Around 80 percent of this is exported to Asia, principally China, India, and Pakistan. While the recent ban on imports of waste and scrap saw EU exports to China decrease by around 6 percent, these volumes were fully absorbed by other Asian countries, including India (+3 percent), Pakistan (65 percent) and Indonesia (6 percent). Since 2002, the EU has been a net exporter of aluminium scrap.

EU exports of scrap

Continuous increase (+4%) of Flat-Rolled Products demand in 2018

European Aluminium statistics confirm the continuous increase in demand for semi-fabricated aluminium (i.e. products obtained from processing aluminium ingots that need to undergo further processing before use in final applications) in Europe during 2018. The growing demand (+4 percent) for Flat Rolled Products (FRP) was driven mainly by transport - particularly automotive - and packaging. Together, both markets represent more than 60 percent of the FRP market. On top, EU imports increased significantly. 


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

Strong increase in extrusion demand (+3.6%) in 2018

For extrusion, the positive outlook for 2018 (+3.6 percent) was principally driven by strong growth in transport - particularly automotive – industrial sectors, and a recovery in the building and construction sector in several European countries. On top, EU imports increased significantly.

The 2018 estimated trade statistics data indicate a strong increase in EU imports of semi-fabricated products (i.e. +113 percent for Flat-Rolled Products and +14 percent for extrusion).

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

Import shares of Flat-Rolled Products in the EU (2018)

Historically, Switzerland, Turkey and Norway are among the most important trade partners for EU imports of semi-fabricated products. Currently, the greatest surge in imports is coming from China. It already has a 25 percent share of Flat-Rolled Products imports, making it the EU’s largest source of Flat-Rolled-Products imports.

  • China
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Egypt
  • Serbia
  • South Africa
  • United States
  • Korea, South
  • Bahrain
  • Rest

Import shares of extrusions in the EU (2018)

Similarly, China has a 34 percent import share in extrusions, making it the EU’s largest source of extrusion imports.

  • China
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Egypt
  • Serbia
  • Morocco
  • United States
  • India
  • Bosnia & Erzegovina
  • Rest
  • UAE

Aluminium production value chain in Europe

There is a well-established aluminium value chain in Europe, with more than 600 plants covering raw materials (e.g. bauxite and alumina), primary metal production, semi-fabrication (e.g. rolling and extrusion) and recycling. Smelters and rolling mills are frequently part of multinational companies, while extrusion and recycling are usually undertaken by small to medium enterprises. All are 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