Global silver demand will rise to 1.029 billion ounces this year, up 15% from 2020 and exceeding a billion ounces for the first time since 2015, the Silver Institute said in a report on Wednesday.
The prediction is a slight downgrade from April, when the institute forecast demand for 2021 at 1.033 billion ounces.
The coronavirus sharply reduced use of silver by manufacturers and jewellers but increased demand from investors who wanted a safe asset to ride out economic turbulence.
This year, with most economies out of lockdowns, demand has risen across the board – from manufacturers of goods including solar panels and electronics to jewellers, makers of silverware and investors in silver bars and coins, the institute said.
It predicted the silver market would be undersupplied by 7 million ounces in 2021, the first deficit since 2015.
Those numbers exclude exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that store silver for investors, since these funds hold wholesale silver bars without remaking them as other users of silver do.
The institute, whose figures are prepared by consultants Metals Focus, said it expected ETF to stockpile less than last year but far more than was typical before the pandemic.
Silver currently trades around $25 an ounce, up from around $16-17 in 2015-19 but down from a high of $30.03 reached in February.
(By Peter Hobson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)