Market Overview

Our 2019 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 and high European energy prices. 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, the growth pace of the European flat rolled products demand slowed down, and there was a decrease in the demand for extrusion products.


2019 in figures

History of primary aluminium production

Main producing countries and regions 1950 - 2019

  • Europe
  • USA
  • China
  • Others

Primary production in Europe remained flat in 2019

In 2019e, primary aluminium production in Europe (EU28+EFTA) remained flat after a slightly negative year in 2018. This flat production is related to continued pressure being exerted on the aluminium supply chain by global trade issues and high energy prices in Europe, affecting the alumina production and the primary smelting production. As a consequence, smelters located in EU28 countries were affected by a production decrease. The lack of affordable electricity prices could also put some smelters at further risk of closure in the foreseeable future. For instance, in 2019, two smelters located in EU28 countries have been idled.

For 2020, we expect a better situation even though trade issues will continue to be a key challenge for aluminium production in Europe. Moreover, as in 2019, European imports of semi-finished (or finished) products, especially from China, will continue to put European production and demand for aluminium ingot under pressure.


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

There are 15 smelters in the EU, located in ten countries: France, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia.

There are ten smelters in EFTA countries (Norway and Iceland) and one smelter in the United Kingdom.

At a global level, China represents about 56 percent of total production. Europe represents about 7 percent of global production, around half of which comes from within the EU28.


EU imports dependency remains high (50%) in 2019

EU28 countries still import approximately 50 percent of their aluminium ingot requirements. As part of the European economic area, Norway and Iceland 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 primary production and recycled production.

Primary Production
Total Recycling
Net Import

Strong increase (+13%) of EU exports of aluminium scrap in 2019

In 2019e, the EU exported around 1,1 million tonnes of aluminium scrap (HS 7602). This represents an increase of 13 percent compared to 2018. About 80 percent of this is exported to Asia, principally China, India and Pakistan. After a drop of EU exports to China in 2018 related to the implementation of Chinese new legislation of ban on waste and scrap, in 2019e, EU exports of scrap to China increased by 40 percent. Otherwise, EU exports to other Asian countries increased steadily: India (+0.8 percent) and Pakistan (+3.5 percent), S. Korea (+18.6 percent) and Hong Kong (+35.7 percent). Since 2002, the EU has been a net exporter of aluminium scrap.

EU exports of scrap

Small increase (+1%) of Flat-Rolled Products demand in 2019

European Aluminium statistics show a mixed situation for the demand of 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 2019e.

After several years of robust growth, in 2019e, European demand for Flat Rolled Products (FRP) was marginally positive (+1.0 percent). FRP demand growth was driven by packaging and transport. These two markets represent more than 60 percent of the FRP demand. However, in 2019e, the demand for applications in the transport segment was affected by a slow-down in the EU’s car production. Demand from the building and construction market remained stable.

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

Small decrease (-2.1%) of extruded products demand in 2019

After a positive outlook for extruded products in 2018, demand decreased by 2.1 percent in 2019e. This decrease in demand was mainly affected by the subdued situation in the car industry and some trade uncertainties affecting other markets (e.g. industry). The building and construction sector was stable with some differences among European countries.

When it comes to trade, despite weaker demand for semis in Europe, the latest 2019e data indicate that EU imports of semis remain at a comparatively high level when compared to 2018 (i.e. + 5 percent for FRP and +0 percent for extrusion). In 2019, high volumes of imports continued to put pressure on European producers because of the pace of growth of FRP demand in Europe softened, and there was even a negative demand for extrusions. The fast growth in Chinese exports into the EU is putting pressure on the European production market: exports of FRP from China increased by 14 percent last year and by 9 percent for extrusions.

  • Transport
  • General engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Building and construction
  • Consumer goods
  • Other
  • Stockists

Import shares of flat-rolled and extruded products in the EU (2019)

Historically, Switzerland, Turkey and Norway are among the most important trade partners for the EU when it comes to imports of semi-fabricated products. Today, the biggest surge in imports we see is coming from China which has a 27 percent share of the European import market in 2019 for FRP (vs. 25 percent in 2018) and a 37 percent import share in extrusions (vs. 33 percent in 2018). China is by far the largest exporter of semis (or finished) products into the EU related. As China is not a market economy, this is an important challenge for the European aluminium industry (see below).

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

EU28 imports of aluminium products from China

In recent years, Chinese exports of aluminium products (i.e. HS 76) to EU28 countries have increased significantly, reaching more than 1 million tonnes of products today. These Chinese exports of aluminium are focused on specific segments of the aluminium value chain. It is especially the case for extruded products and structures (i.e. HS 7604, 7608 and 7610) or aluminium sheets and foil products (i.e. HS 7606 and 7607).

After a major increase (+ 34 percent) of Chinese exports to the EU28 in 2018, the latest trade data indicate a growth of 8 percent in 2019e. As in previous years, this growth in 2019e is driven by aluminium sheet (+14 percent), foil products (+13 percent) but also by aluminium structures (+11 percent) and extruded products (+9 percent).

  • Bosnia & Erzegovina
  • China
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • UAE
  • United States
  • Rest
Aluminium structures
Aluminium household articles

Aluminium production value chain in Europe

There is an established and complete 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 owned by multinationals, while the majority of the plants involved in extrusion and recycling are small to medium enterprises (SMEs). 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