Granite’s Big Four – Brazil, China, India and Italy – took a hit in the value of goods sent to the United States. Brazil retained its top position, but the $115.1 million from first-half 2009 is a 43.9-percent drop from the same time last year. China solidified a close second at $107.2 million, suffering only a 26.2-percent decline.

The remaining set of the quartet didn’t fare as well. Italy’s $48.9 million from first-half 2009 is a 55.3-percent slide from the same time; India’s first-half 2009 came to $46.4, a 51.2-percent drop from the previous year.

When it comes to volume, the 501,181 metric tons of granite received in U.S. ports during the first half of this year represented a 45.1-percent drop from same time in 2008. Brazil kept its top position with 161,416 metric tons for first-half 2009, but that’s a 29.9-percent decline. China, the top importer in first-half 2008, slid into second this year with a 52.7-percent drop to 140,756 metric tons.

India also took a big chop, as its 98,820 metric tons for January-June 2009 accounted for a 53.5-percent reduction from first-half 2008. Italy, meanwhile, saw its U.S. granite shipments drop by 66.9 percent with its 34,648 metric tons in this year’s first half.

As seen at the end of last year, price-per-ton averages varied across the board from month to month. At this year’s halfway point, China managed to gain some financial muscle; its per-metric-ton value for granite came to $762, a major hike from the $489 average of January-June 2008. India also managed to squeeze a few more dollars out of the market, with a per-metric-ton average of $496 compared to 2008’s $448.

Italy’s drop in value and tonnage conversely gave a nice boost to its per-metric-ton average, with the $1,341 of first-half 2009 representing an almost-$200 rise. Brazil came in as the only major granite supplier to show a drop in per-metric-ton averages for January-June, with a $172 cut from 2008 to this year’s $713.

MARBLE

Last year, marble imports appeared to be recession-resistant in retaining or gaining market share in dimensional stone. This year, however, the marble trade is taking a loss, although not as severe as granite.

The value of U.S. worked-marble imports totaled $91.3 million for first-half 2009, down 35.6 percent from the same time last year. Italy, the perennial leader in marble imports, led once again with $40.5 million at the halfway point of 2009, but that’s 36.5-percent-less than first-half 2008. China’s mid-year total of $17.6 million, meanwhile, represented only a 13.1-percent drop from the same time last year.

Other major importers fared worse, as Spain’s $7.6 million in half-year worked-marble value for 2009 resulted from a 60.6-percent dive from mid-year 2008. Turkey’s $7.5 million also showed a major loss (31.7 percent) from first-half 2008; fifth-place Greece came in at $5.5 million, running only 4.9 percent off of mid-point last year.

The 77,838 metric tons of worked marble coming here in first-half 2009 represented a 30.9-percent decline from January-June 2008. China, however, managed to buck the downward trend – its 23,615 metric tons managed to edge ahead of mid-year 2008 totals by 1.5 percent.