Global Stainless Steel Production 'Ramps Up'

The stainless steel industry has significantly ramped up production in order to begin addressing global shortages and price rises of the metal. Figures recently released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) for Q1 2021 show that stainless steel melt shop production has grown to 14.5 million metric tons compared to Q1 2020, representing a 24.7% year-on-year increase.

The Q1 2020 production figure was pre-COVID apart from in China, the country which is the main driver of growth. Despite the huge increase in stainless steel production worldwide, several quarters with such increased production rates are needed to address the large shortfalls in supply to demand.

The trend for growth in global crude stainless steel output looks set to continue, according to data from MEPS. After last year's slump in production, global output is predicted to strongly rebound to around 55 million tons in 2021, representing an increase of over 8% on the figure for 2020.

The main driver for this predicted increase is robust production activity in China. Chinese steel producers have responded quickly to high domestic demand in response to soaring global prices and government stimulus measures.

Output from the US is predicted to grow by 16% year-on-year but is still expected to fall short of 2019's figure. It has been reported that Allegheny Technologies INC. plans to exit the stainless steel market in 2021, with worker strikes at a number of the company's sites 'likely to continue'.

More than 10% growth is expected within the EU this year. After strong output levels recorded early this year, MEPS has upgraded its production forecast for the EU to 7 million tons.

Indonesia's production volumes are expected to increase by 7.6% year-on-year, reaching a figure of more than 3 million tons in 2021. Despite provision anti-dumping tariffs for EU exports being introduced, output from local producers  'remains strong'.

The forecast for Taiwan has been downgraded by MEPS to 890,000 tons, with an extensive industrial fire at one manufacturers Kaohsiung plant expected to curtail shipments significantly. Double-digit percentage increases in manufacturing in India, South Korea and Japan are expected to make up for this shortfall.

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