World industrial valve demand will exceed $77.6 billion in 2011 based on a 4.4 percent annual growth rate, according to a study by The Freedonia Group ( The study predicts gains will be driven by a healthy outlook for the global economy, leading to increased fixed investment activity in key valve markets such as the United States, China, and Germany. Valve demand in the energy production sector is expected to benefit from a pickup in primary energy consumption in mature markets like North America, as well as in developing valve markets such as Latin America.

Growth in valve demand in the United States, Japan, and Western Europe is expected to trail the world average through 2011, with stronger growth in rapidly developing nations, such as China, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and India. Advances in valve demand in these areas will be driven by healthy economic and fixed investment growth, while an expanding market for more expensive automated valves and actuators will support overall valve gains in the United States, Japan, and Western Europe.

Freedonia predicts the global market for automatic valves will outpace that for conventional valves, due to the ongoing efforts of process manufacturers to improve operational efficiencies. The strongest gains will be registered in sales of separately sold automatic actuators, which are used together with standard valves to allow for automated valve functions and are less expensive than automatic control and regulator valves with actuators preinstalled. Still, conventional valves are expected to continue to account for 54 percent of total valve demand in 2011, due to their low cost relative to other highly engineered automatic valves.

The largest and most advanced industrial valve industries are located in developed nations, particularly those which have large, well-developed home markets, technical expertise in manufacturing higher-value products, and access to factors of production such as capital and labor supplies, according to Freedonia. China, however, is rapidly becoming a key player in the valve industry. France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Taiwan are also sizable valve producers. The largest net exporters of valves are Germany, Italy, and Japan.