It’s important to note that market trends within Europe vary widely from country to country. While the overall market stagnated year-on-year at 1.14 metric tons, growth rates in Europe ranged from -2.55% to +4.35%. The largest European country in the GFRP/composites market continues to be Germany, with a total production volume of 225,000 metric tons (down 1.75% from 2018). Only Eastern European nations registered growth last year. Production in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria and Switzerland was stable. All other countries anticipated production to fall in 2019.
The overall mood within the composites sector is subdued, fueled by growing stock market uncertainty, declining rates of investment and a generally turbulent economic climate. The gross domestic product (GDP) indicators for Europe as a whole – and many of its national economies – are currently starting to turn downward. The market is also adversely affected by growing political uncertainties within the European Union and in international trade. Brexit, trade disputes between the United States and China and the protectionist policies of various countries are creating insecurity.
Despite these challenges to the European composites industry, there is promise. Some areas show tremendous potential, such as construction of the 5G network and renovation of bridges and buildings. However, awareness of composite materials is still too low for them to be widely considered by end user decision-makers. This must change because composites are a good, if not better choice for many applications. If customers can reassess these materials and composites become subject to standards/norms, then market growth is assured for years to come.