• Homegrown profits: These expansions, coupled with the industry downturn, have dramatically reduced imports, and will for the foreseeable future. The 1990s saw supplemental imports to meet demand climb steadily from single-digit millions of tons to almost 30 million tons, accounting for 28% of national supply.
  • This leveled off in the last recession, then moved up again to new record buying. In 2006, 36 million tons were purchased, representing 30% of U.S. consumption.

    In 2007, U.S. imports tumbled, falling 13 million tons. Forecasts point to a further sharp fall in U.S. imports, with projections pointing to a fall below 7 million tons within two years, comparable to the recession lows of 1992–93.

    The good news is that some optimists, including me, see the cement demand curve swinging back up as early as 2010, and certainly by 2012.

    There's another important factor: When the recovery comes, producers will not have to face a cement shortage.

    Let's hope the cement industry's plans work and the economy responds. An economically healthy cement industry is good for the concrete production business.

    Pierre Villere is president and managing partner of Allen-Villere Partners. E-mail pvillere@allenvillere.com or telephone 985-727-4310. For more, visit www.allenvillere.com.