Category Insights & Outlook 2023 h2





The metals market remains highly volatile in the face of multiple macroeconomic pressures.

On the supply side, geopolitical issues and natural disasters have disturbed supply chain logistics. On the demand side, widely incorporated ESG practices have affected the manufacturing industry, and potential economic recessions could lower consumer demand and therefore impact the demand for metal from manufacturing. Metal prices are expected to ease over the remainder of the year but will remain subject to volatility over the medium term.*

* Note that this data and related contents refer to circumstances as of end of September 2023.

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Future outlook

Overall, metal prices are forecast to fall by 8% in 2023 and a further 3% in 2024.12  Prices are expected to remain volatile, although many have been easing with the recovering Chinese economy.

12  World Bank

Short term

  • As fiscal policy tightens across OECD countries and manufacturing activity in the US slows, steel rebar prices may decline further due to reduced demand.13  China’s debt market and resulting credit constraints will likely lower demand of the metal in H2 2023.14 
  • Aluminium demand is expected to moderately decline in 2023 due to reduced construction activity in Europe and a weaker property market in China, though the latter may experience an increase in demand towards the back end of 2023. Price volatility will likely continue with the Russia-Ukraine war expected to continue.15, 16 
  • Nickel prices are expected to decline by 11-15% given oversupply.17 
  • Copper is expected to increase production and demand until 2024 by ~2.5-3.1%. In the UK and EU, copper demand is forecast to increase by 1.8% in 2023 while China will likely see a CAGR of 2.9%.18 With increased demand for the metal, prices are expected to increase in the short term.
  • Tin prices are anticipated to increase due to the prohibition of tin mining in Myanmar and export ban in Indonesia, starting 1 August 2023.19  
  • Lithium is expected to continue to drop within the next 12 months. By the end of Q2 2023, prices are expected to drop slightly but remain elevated overall for the coming year compared to pre-pandemic levels.20 

13 Capital, GMK, Capital, Gensteel
14 World Bank
15 Capital
16 Shanghai Metals Market
17 World Bank
19 TradingEconomics
20 Trading Economics

Medium term

•    While overall prices are expected to ease this year, buyers will face continued instability in the price of metal over the next three years. This hinders buyer power and will challenge the market to budget for purchases.21 
•    The aluminium price is expected to remain elevated for the next few years with demand high due to green energy investments.22 
•    Strong demand from the green energy industry and electric vehicles will likely lead to a lasting tightness in tin supply.23 

21 World Bank
22 Capital
23 TradingEconomics

Dos, Don'ts, and Best Practices


  • Consider renegotiating prices for certain metals. 
  • Run an impact assessment and estimate exposure and dependencies. 
  • Prioritise initial supply continuity and consider inventory / planning levers. 
  • Look for alternative local and international suppliers (producers/traders) to limit exposure and expand the supplier base. 
  • Treat this as an opportunity to optimise and reduce
  • Pass through costs where possible.


  • Do not accept increases if they are not made transparent; determine if they are justified and agree on the conditions for accepting them. 
  • Do not rush – assess risks, opportunities, and create short-, medium-, and long-term strategies. 
  • Do not treat the category in silo – identify basketing opportunities depending on metals type. 


Understand the price breakdown: 

  • Understand the underlying price indices and establish what is covered by the premium/discount.
  • Create full transparency across your procurement costs and supply chain impacts.
  • Conduct should-cost analyses for a detailed understanding of the cost drivers and the impact of index development. 
  • Establish the current state of contract administration, ensuring skilled personnel is at hand to hedge prices.

Short term – Ensure supply and prepare mitigation of risk: 

  • Confirm exposure to unavailability of supply and/or index price volatility. 
  • Consider investing in upstream resources to guarantee supply. 
  • Thoroughly prepare for negotiations with business-critical supply partners. 

Long term – Manage volatility impact and boost resilience: 

  • Review long-term procurement strategy
  • Ensure the right internal and external capabilities
  • Explore risk management strategies.

Key takeaways 

  • Renegotiate pricing with the key suppliers, as the prices for several metals will be going down. 
  • Negotiate longer-term contracts with suppliers to mitigate future supply shortages. 
  • Consider restructuring the supply base by going regional or exploring suppliers in the regions with expanding production capacities that will reduce total cost and improve supply chain agility.
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Category Insights & Outlook H2 2023

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