AKRON—Last year was a mixed bag for the "other tires" sectors of the tire distribution industry in North America.
While demand for agricultural tires remained relatively stable in 2020—or even ticked upward in some categories—because of the "essential business" status afforded the agronomy sector during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand in other sectors, such as construction, waned as projects were delayed or put on hold.
Since a relatively high share of tires in the "other tires" sector sold in the U.S.—such as agriculture, off-the-road mining/construction/miscellaneous, industrial, solid, trailer, recreational, motorcycle, etc.—are imported, tracking import trends can be a valid barometer of overall sector activity.
In 2020, the value of imports in these sectors dropped slightly—down 4.3 percent to $2.26 billion—but a number of individual categories showed relatively robust growth versus 2019, according to Tire Business' analysis of the Commerce Department data.
The largest categories, by value, were the ST trailer tires and treaded agricultural tires (defined as "herringbone" tread patterns by Commerce), with imports in 2020 valued at $781.9 million and $241.4 million, respectively.