Sector overview


The building materials market is undergoing profound changes. Emerging markets are becoming urbanized and experiencing unprecedented growth. People are also becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues and new building methods. An overview of the challenges faced by the sector around the world.

Expansion of emerging markets

Emerging markets drive global growth in the sector

Despite the economic and financial crisis, global cement demand grew by approximately 6% in 2013.

This growth is predominantly supported by the dynamism of most large emerging markets, particularly China, Brazil, India and Sub Saharan Africa, where demography, urbanization and economic growth drive th needs for housing and infrastructure.

Emerging markets account for 58% of Group sales in 2013 (32% in 2005).

Sustainable construction

Sustainable construction aims to limit the impact of buildings on the environment while enhancing their quality in terms of aesthetics, sustainability, durability and strength. Sustainable construction techniques apply across the entire life cycle of a building, from the selection of initial materials to demolition and recycling.

Acquisition of Orascom Cement

Accelerate the strategy
On January 2008, Lafarge acquired Orascom Cement, the cement leader in Middle-East and Mediterranean Basin: i.e. a fast-growing and very profitable market, with high potential. With this acquisition and the current construction program of additional tons, the Group will add a total of 78 million tons of production capacity between 2006 and 2012.

Lafarge is well positioned

Lafarge is the leading player in building materials worldwide and is well positioned to serve these economies. More than half of Lafarge's workforce is employed in emerging economies in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Moving towards new industrial practices

In general, the cost of manufacturing our different products can be broken down as follows:

  • energy accounts for 33% raw materials 28% of the cost of producing cement, raw materials represent approximately 70% of the cost of ready-mix concrete. Delivery expenses account for approximately 20% of the cost,energy, raw materials and labor represent 50% of the cost of producing aggregates.

Reducing the environmental footprint of our activities

The cement industry emits CO2. Since the 1970s, the Group has been working to reduce its ecological footprint in order to respond to needs for infrastructure, housing, hospitals and schools while conserving natural resources.

This approach focuses on:

  • the modernization of plants and the improvement of industrial processes,
  • product research and innovation,
  • the use of alternative fuels and materials, with the aim of reducing the consumption of non-renewable natural resources and limiting CO2 emissions.

Towards sustainable construction

The building consumes vast amounts of energy and is the source of 40% of the CO2 emissions of developed countries.

Lafarge is working to invent the building methods of tomorrow.

The entire life cycle of the building needs to be reconsidered, from the use of recyclable materials to the integration of renewable energies and the reduction of pollution.