Zorba market faces choppy waters

Many scrap market participants were optimistic that shredded mixed non-ferrous metal product zorba would have a strong start to 2020. With firm demand and high prices for ferrous scrap encouraging inbound flows, it seemed the market could only go up.

But the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures introduced weakened the global economy and sent metals prices plummeting. The negative impact of the economic shutdown rippled across the US automotive supply chain, and prices for aluminium scrap were hit particularly hard as demand dried up domestically and overseas.

Zorba is the feedstock material for aluminium scrap non-ferrous auto shred - widely known as twitch - and both prices have followed a volatile path. The Fastmarkets twitch price, for example, rose to 44-47 cents per lb heading into March, an increase of 15% from the start of the year. But it lost nearly 20% of its value a month later when it dropped to 35-38 cents per lb as Covid-19 restrictions were implemented across the United States. It has since edged up to 37-40 cents per lb, delivered to Midwest secondary smelters.

The fall in zorba and twitch prices during the spring squeezed auto shredders’ margins, since the non-ferrous processing component is a significant portion of their revenue stream. It came as shredders also faced lower volumes in the wake of the Covid-19-driven slowdown and fluctuating ferrous scrap prices.

Amid this volatility and uncertainty, Fastmarkets is set to launch a US domestic zorba price next month to help businesses navigate these uncharted waters and to broaden the scope of its price offerings within the metals industry. Zorba is one of the most widely traded scrap grades in the world and serves as feedstock for the A380.1 aluminium alloy.

As the US emerges from lockdown and some sense of normalcy returns, questions linger regarding what the remainder of this year will look like for the aluminium scrap industry. How will supply and demand for auto shred change during the coming months as the economy ramps back up and consumer buying patterns for vehicles potentially shift?

The post-Covid-19 world is unfamiliar territory, and the need for clarity in the metals space is going to become more important. Our rollout of a US zorba price will provide you with a full suite of aluminium scrap prices - and hopefully, the ability to safely navigate these troubled waters.
Price notice: Launch of US zorba price
Following an extensive consultation period, Fastmarkets AMM will launch an aluminium scrap zorba price in the United States on Thursday July 2, 2020.

Based on research and a consultation among market participants, the specification for the US domestic zorba price will be 95/3, delivered to Midwest secondary smelters, US cents per lb. The price will be published on a weekly basis on Thursday and form part of the secondary smelters’ aluminium scrap assessment.

The full specification includes:
Quality: Zorba 95% metallic content; 3% copper and brass
Quantity: Truckload (around 44,000 lb)
Location: US Midwest, delivered to smelters
Unit: Cents per lb
Publication: Weekly, Thursday

For inputs received outside of the 95/3 specification, Fastmarkets AMM will apply a normalization formula in order to include the price input in the final assessment.

The launch of a US domestic price for zorba follows a one-month consultation period that ended on March 6 and was extended until May 15.

Zorba is the byproduct of the auto shredding process and one of the most widely traded scrap grades in the world. It is also a feedstock for the A380.1 aluminium alloy, and the launch of an assessment for this key grade in the domestic market will provide Fastmarkets customers with a full suite of aluminium scrap prices.

To provide feedback on this price, or if you would like to provide price information by becoming a data submitter to this price, please contact Sean Barry or Jenny Stewart by email at: pricing@fastmarkets.com. Please add the subject heading FAO: Sean Barry or Jennifer Stewart, re: zorba.

To see all of Fastmarkets AMM’s pricing methodology and specification documents, click here.

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