Tom Mitchell, MAFSI Chairman
By Tom Mitchell, MAFSI Chairman on June 03, 2021

Steel prices by the numbers and how it affects the Foodservice Industry

It has come to most people’s attention that certain pieces of the foodservice supply chain are being globally inflated. Cold rolled steel is the primary product in this conversation. When we think foodservice, we think about stainless steel and it has been affected, but not significantly.

World stainless 304 prices:

2017- $9,000.00 per ton
2019- $18,000.00 per ton
2020- $15,000.00 per ton
2021- $18,000.00 per ton


The stainless-steel price is currently the same as the 2019 pricing. Cold rolled steel on the other hand:

World carbon cold rolled prices:

2017- $600.00 per ton
2019 - $460.00 per ton
2020- $450.00 per ton
2021- $1,670.00 per ton


Since the middle of last year S/S has increased by 20% and cold rolled, plain or galvanized has increased by 278%. Why is this important? Because most walk-in coolers and freezers are made of enameled cold rolled or galvanized steel. Thomas Hale, in The Financial Times May 24, 2021 article, “Iron ore prices drop after China warns of excessive speculation”. Iron ore dropped 26% in the last month. Also, in the last week I posted on Linked In an article from stating that iron ore prices will continue to drop for the next three years to $65.00 from $188.00.

The high prices are not being caused by demand but by speculation and by overly large government stimulation. This is showing up in several commodity industries and is causing unacceptable inflation in Walkin Coolers and Freezers as well as rebar and automobiles. That is why your walk-in just increased by 25% in the last four months. All indications are the market should start to normalize by the end of the year.

Stainless Steel. (May 26, 2021). Stainless Steel MetalMiner Prices. MetalMiner.

Ion ore. March 30 2021.

Hale, Thomas. (May 24, 2021). Iron ore prices drop after China warns of excessive speculation. The Financial Times.

Published by Tom Mitchell, MAFSI Chairman June 3, 2021
Tom Mitchell, MAFSI Chairman