The business-research firm The Freedonia Group projects U.S. demand for industrial valves to rise 3.8% annually to $12 billion in 2004. The expected increases, however, represent a slowdown over the 4.9% annual rate between 1994 and 1999. This is primarily a result of overall slower economic growth, which will cause producers to postpone capital expenditures. In addition, the rising level of imports will restrain growth in market value, because these products often have a price advantage due to lower cost labor.

Growth in valve demand will be supported, however, by advances in the pulp and paper, chemical and petroleum refining industries. This general upgrading of production processes will also support dollar gains, as end users become increasingly willing to purchase more expensive valve products in the awareness that in the long run these larger up-front outlays will reduce operating costs through increased manufacturing efficiencies.