Foodservice Equipment Reports

Nearly All Metals Prices Begin To Move Higher

Prices for nearly all metals used widely in foodservice equipment and supplies have begun to move higher, after a brief decline in prices late last year.

Stainless steel prices are moving higher after bottoming out in December and January. The MEPS Int’l. North American All Products Stainless Steel Index rose to 171.9 in February, a 10-point gain. The average price per ton was $210 higher than in January, at $3,576. But unlike most of the big run-ups in stainless prices in recent years, these are driven mostly by increases in the base steels, not in the cost of nickel, which has been stable or trending lower. Chromium, also a component of 304 and other 300-series grades, has risen a bit, according to a report from Kloeckner Metals in Prime Advantage’s Prime Times e-newsletter.

As we previously reported, all the key American stainless producers have announced base-price increases for March.  Prices for hot-rolled carbon-steel coil has risen nearly 15% in the past three months, while cold-rolled steels have seen increases in the 8% to 10% range, according to the metals.com website.

Prices for aluminum, copper and zinc are also rising according to Kloeckner and metals.com.

The metals increases are likely to pressure more equipment and supplies manufacturers to consider price increases. Strong materials-cost increases from mid-2010 through summer last year led manufacturers to increase the pace and magnitude of E&S price increases last year and at the beginning of this year, according to AutoQuotes Inc. But the decline in materials prices that began last fall had some customers questioning the increases. List-price increases hit record lows in ’09 and early ’10.

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