Positive Mineral Products Sales Volumes Suggest Construction Activity Remains Buoyant
MPA sales volumes of aggregates, ready-mixed concrete and asphalt improved again in the first quarter of 2015. Seasonally adjusted results, which provide a consistent quarter by quarter comparison, indicated that crushed rock and sand and gravel sales volumes rose by 2.2% and 3.6% respectively compared to Q4 2014 and ready-mixed concrete and asphalt sales were 1.3% and 1.2% up. Annual sales of cement grew by 7.8% in 2014.
These materials represent by far the largest element of the construction supply chain and aggregates and concrete are used throughout the construction sector. Asphalt is used mainly in the road maintenance and construction markets.
To put these improvements into a longer term perspective, the latest quarterly volumes for asphalt, aggregates and concrete remain 15%, 25% and 30% below the pre-recession peak respectively, so there remains significant scope for further improvements in minerals products and construction markets, particularly outside London and particularly in non-housing markets.
Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive MPA, commented, “Demand for our sector’s materials, which are critical to construction, has continued to grow in Q1 suggesting that construction activity remains buoyant. We believe that recent preliminary ONS construction data may be underestimating actual levels of activity and await later revisions to confirm the true picture. However, the official data do highlight that construction activity is essential to a continuing economic recovery and a new Government must ensure that uncertainty is minimised to boost confidence to encourage sustained public and private investment in construction following the election.”