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7 building materials Russia can’t import enough of

Russia is a big country with a big construction sector, which is developing fast to rebound from recession and currency troubles. But its building material base, in certain areas, is not quite at the same standard – meaning there are many key building products where Russia relies on imports from Europe and elsewhere.

Here are seven areas that can bring opportunities for building product exporters looking to get into Russia:


Green building materials

Russian homebuyers – and homebuilders – are becoming more energy-conscious, and this is good news for international suppliers of eco-friendly building materials. Speaking to Russian newspaper Vedomosti, Russian developer Andrey Tyasto said that his firm uses up to 15% of its project budget on imported materials, with green products a major part of this.

Moscow architect Denis Kuvshinnikov agrees: “We feel that the market is in need of green projects and we’d like to know more about green building in general, in order to provide correct estimates to our clients,” he told the Russian Green Building Council. “We think that this green building trend is very positive and we want to play a part in this process.” This shows that players at every level of Russia’s building market are showing a love for green - meaning exporters will have even more joy in this market as Russia gets in touch with its eco-friendly side.



Russian cement production is struggling to meet demand – having risen 11% year on year since 2010, domestic production grew just 3% last year, leading to a supply gap that is being plugged by imports. As well as neighbour Belarus, Lithuania is a major supplier of cement to Russian construction sites, accounting for 22% of all imports in 2014.


Cellular concrete machinery

Consumption of this material in Russia last year was much higher than the industry expected – 14% higher than 2013, with nearly 13 million cubic metres used in total.

While this is great news in its own right, the opportunities for exporters here mainly lie with the machinery used to produce cellular concrete – 80% of all technology used in the cellular concrete production process comes from outside Russia. With 150 cellular concrete factories operating in European Russia alone, there is room for the whole machinery supply chain to get involved.


High-quality bricks

After a 2014 of highs and lows, the recent stabilisation of the rouble means exporters of bricks to Russia are feeling a lot more positive. Non-CIS countries make up 17% of Russia’s brick market, and European bricks – particularly from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the Baltic countries – are preferred by developers and specifiers for their top quality.

“To be honest, (Russian brick producers) are still a long way from their international counterparts,” said Stanislav Bashirov, head of the Russian firm MosKeram, in an interview with the Russian building website rcmm.ru. “A house made from high-quality European bricks looks much more interesting than a house made from Russian ones.”

Not only does this give European exporters a clear quality point to trade on, this means there is also a strong market for suppliers of production equipment to Russia, as the country’s manufacturers look to invest in machinery that can help bring the quality of their bricks up to imported standards.


Wood-plastic composite

Wood-plastic composite is well established elsewhere in Europe, but Russia has been a late adopter, so German, American, South Korean and Belgian exporters are having a lot of joy in this market. Producers from these countries again enjoy a reputation for quality – something that Chinese players in the market are a long way from, negating any pricing advantage they might have.

Staying on the wood topic, tropical timber and hardwoods like azobe are finding their way to more and more high-end Russian projects. Developments that use them command a high price, and exporters can mine a rich seam if they can find the right buyers and specifiers.


Roofing tiles

Attention Scandinavia and the Baltic countries – north-west Russia is a heavy importer of roofing tiles, accounting for around 75% of the entire country's imports of the product in the first three months of 2015. 


Metal roofing

Roofing in general is an area where foreign companies are making big sales in Russia, particularly metal roofing. Finnish firm Ruukki sold 23% more metal roofing in Russia in 2014 than it did last year, with plans to grow this even more in 2015.

Belgium is another country that is particularly strong in supplying metal roofing to Russia. A great example is Metrotile – since coming to Russia in 2014, the Tongeren-based company has gained sales networks in 40 Russian cities, and its roofing can be found on top of over 4,000 houses in the country.


Exporters – are you looking to fill these supply gaps? The MosBuild trade exhibition in Moscow is where tens of thousands of Russia’s buyers, specifiers and distributors of building materials choose the products they want to use their projects. Read more about how you can meet them at the show, or get in touch to find out more.

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Tanya Aleksankina

International Sales Manager - Interiors sectors


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