This year, the global price of graphite has fallen to about $3,300 a pound, compared with $4,300 in 2010.
But some producers, like French graphite maker Cepeda, are taking advantage of the slump to push their products in new markets and attract buyers from abroad.
As demand for graphite in the United States and other countries wanes, producers like Cepada have begun to experiment with other materials.
“If we could do it with graphite we could get away with it,” says Olivier Rignon, chief executive of Cepda.
But graphite is not the only alternative, he says.
The company uses graphite from two other sources: a British company called Chantilly and the French company Graphite Group.
Cepedas products are made in the UK and Germany, but it’s the French firm that has been selling graphite to the US.
Graphite is used in a variety of ways, including as a substitute for platinum in jewelry and for medical implants.
The United States is a leader in using graphite as a source of platinum for medical instruments, but the use of graphites is still growing in Europe, where it is used for electrical connectors and as a catalyst in chemical processes.
There are now a growing number of countries using graphites for electrical sockets and electrical cables, says Rignons boss.
“We have a problem with the price of the market,” he says, “because it’s falling.”
But the US still remains the biggest market for graphites, with more than half of the world’s production in the country.
The world has also been flooded with supply, as the demand for the materials has outstripped supply.
This year is a good one for graphitic-rich countries like China and India.
There is demand for these products in developing countries like the Philippines, where demand is rising as a result of the rise of China as a power-hungry power.
“The market for a good piece of graphitic has really grown this year,” says Daniel Bielensky, a market analyst at market research firm Euromonitor.
“In the last two or three years, the demand has really accelerated.
It’s a perfect storm for growth.”