Total world crude stainless steel production for 2011 is predicted to be 32.5Mt.

This would be an all-time high tonnage, 4.5% greater than the previous record, set last year, according to MEPS, global steel consultants’ forecast.

MEPS’ earlier forecast has been revised downward because economies around the world have recovered from recession less quickly than had been anticipated.

Further output gains are expected in 2012. Growth of 7.1% is forecast, to give an annual crude stainless steel outturn of 34.8Mt.

Despite lower than predicted demand, and therefore production, during the second and third quarters of this year, Chinese annual output is forecast to grow by more than 13% on last year's previous record. A further increase of approximately 11% is anticipated in 2012.

Taiwanese producers continue to lose market share to the expanding stainless steel industries of China and South Korea. This year's forecast outturn will be the lowest annual figure for many years.

In Japan, stainless steel production has been maintained at a decent level despite the natural disaster, earlier this year. The 2011 total out turn is predicted to be marginally down on last year's mark.

South Korea has performed more strongly than some of its neighbours this year, increasing finished products capacity and maintaining export volumes with aggressive selling. Total output for 2011 is expected to rise by 3.5%.

The final outturn for Q2 in the USA was much lower than predicted. Subdued production continued throughout the summer period.

Consequently, the anticipated total output for 2011 represents a decrease of 3.6% on last year's figure.

The recovery in the EU has been restrained by sovereign debt issues in several member nations. Forecast stainless steel output for 2011 is 1.0% up on the previous year's production but still less than 81% of the peak figure from 2006.