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December 2, 2021 – In talks with Thorsten Gerber, CEO Gerber Group, on current challenges in stainless steel availability and delivery times. There are also increasing reports from China that many steel producers will have to comply with strict production restrictions from January to March 2022 to ensure air quality for the Winter Olympics. And in the European Union, stainless steel prices remain high and availability tight.

Stainless Espresso: Stainless steel availability and delivery times
Stainless Espresso: Stainless steel availability and delivery times

China significantly restricts steel production until March 2022

Back in September 2021, we reported that China was planning to restrict steel production until March 2022.

Now it is being reported that these production restrictions will apparently be stepped up again from January 2022. The background to this is the Winter Olympics in Beijing, for which air quality is to be safeguarded. In addition, China is still suffering from energy shortages, which have led to production cuts in southern Chinese provinces.

Steelmakers in at least 14 Chinese cities have to cut production

According to unofficial reports, the steel industry in the Chinese cities of Tangshan, Zhengzhou, Tianjin, Changzhi, Shijiazhuang, Zhangjiakou, Chengde, Shandong, Jinan, Weihai, Weifang, Taiyuan, Datong and Luoyang are affected by the production cuts. Plants there will have to either stop production completely or curtail it. The period is scheduled to run from Jan. 1 to March 8, 2022.

Electric steel mills in Heyuan and Guangdong without energy

In addition, steelmakers in Heyuan and Guangdong are facing power shortages and have had to halt production temporarily. According to market sources, the electric steel mills will not be able to resume production before January 2022.

EU: EU stainless steel availability tight, prices continue to rise

European stainless steel prices for cold-rolled strip and sheet continue to rise. Domestic steel producers blame this on increased raw material costs, e.g. for nickel and scrap. In addition, delivery times from European stainless steel production have reached the April to June 2022 range – at all the stainless steel availability is tight. In the short term, isolated quantities of hot-rolled coil currently still appear to be available for December.

Stainless steel availability and delivery times: Thorsten Gerber on current challenges

Challenge 1: Stainless steel availability

Björn Kammeyer (BK): Thorsten, what is the current situation on stainless steel availability and delivery times? What are the biggest headaches in the market?

Thorsten Gerber (TG): Many stainless steel buyers are currently facing the major challenge of not knowing where to get material at all. The EU steel producers have nothing to offer. Stainless steel availability is no better at US mills.. We are still managing to get material for our customers. Orders are being accepted by our partners. But the big challenge is the actual delivery times.

Challenge 2: Delivery times

BK: What does that mean for your team and for you in particular?

TG: We have to get up every day motivated and be there with full energy for our customers and help them. Like everyone else, we have to deal with logistical challenges and delivery delays. We have to be persistent. Put pressure on suppliers and logistics providers. To keep asking, to remain a constant thorn in the side of the right people.

Are there any solutions?

BK: A situation like the current one won’t disappear overnight. How do you solve it?

TG: First of all, we know the situation very well, of course. Yes, we know that delivery times are currently the biggest issue besides the general stainless steel availability in procurement. And we have to talk about that. Especially with our customers. Talk to each other. Work out solutions together. That’s what I really enjoy, for example. Finding a solution together with our customers.

Talk to customers

BK: You were just in the United States for two days. And you just got back from New York. What was the background?

TG: Customer meetings. A customer urgently needed to let off some steam about the current delivery situation. Which I can fully understand. But that is also a great incentive and motivating factor for us. To get a little better every day. Because we love our customers.

Who is Thorsten Gerber

Thorsten Gerber is an international stainless steel and aluminum trader with over 20 years of experience in the steel industry. With a broad network of suppliers and a team of experienced experts, he not only supplies customers in North Americaand Europe with hot-rolled and cold-rolled stainless steel and aluminum products in particular.

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