U.S. demand for asphalt is forecast to increase 3.7% annually to 27.9 million tons in 2017. That’s more than road-builders and other consumers used in 2012, when asphalt demand hit rock bottom, but much less than during the pre-recession economic boom.

These and other trends are presented in Asphalt, a new study available for $5,300 from Cleveland-based market research firm The Freedonia Group Inc.

Highway and road construction is by far the largest market for asphalt cement, the most frequently specified paving material. Asphalt-based paving products accounted for 71% of consumption in 2012, and will remain the leading application for the material going forward.

However, the firm expects any gains to be limited by government agencies rehabilitating and repairing older or worn surfaces instead of building new roads. Recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) and in-place recycling pavement reconstruction methods are favored by state DOTs because they’re less costly, but they suppress demand for new material.

This is good news for producers of asphalt emulsions, however, whose products are blended with old pavement to make RAP.

U.S. Asphalt Demand (% annual growth/thousand tons) 

The Freedonia Group Inc.

2007

2012

2017

2007-2012

2012-2017

Total consumption

33,650

23,300

27,900

-7.1

3.7

Paving

26,300

16,650

20,200

-8.7

3.9

Roofing & Other

7,350

6,650

7,700

-2.0

3.0