Foodservice Equipment Reports

Metals, Other Commodity Prices Back On The Rise

After bottoming out in November and December, prices for stainless and carbon steels, as well as aluminum, copper and other materials widely used in foodservice equipment and supplies, are back on the rise. Pushing the gains are strong increases in prices for carbon steels, nickel and copper.

According to a report from Main Steel, published in Prime Advantage’s Prime Times e-newsletter in late January, carbon-steel prices are up from 12% for galvanized grades to more than 19% for hot-rolled products, since bottoming out in November. Nickel prices have also surged since their low below $8/lb. in November, up more than $1.25/lb. since early January, though prices softened a bit at the beginning of February. Adding to the gains are base-price increases of 10% to 16% that all U.S. stainless producer announced effective Jan. 1. Copper prices jumped to $3.90/lb. in late January from a November low of $3.30/lb. And aluminum prices also edged up in January.

Main Steel expects the upward pressure on prices to continue through at least the second quarter, though it also noted the steel mills are getting some push-back pressure. ThyssenKrupp’s stainless group announced a 6% to 7% increase for most stainless grades beginning Mar. 1, but as one competitor refused to follow the increase, it appears TK and other producers will have to back down, at least for 304 products.

In a separate announcement, TK announced it agreed to sell a majority stake in its Inoxum stainless group, including its new Calvert, Ala., plant and Mexinox facilities, to Outokumpu, the Finland-based stainless steel producer.

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