Since the beginning of the corona crisis, the demand for physical silver has increased sharply, especially in the United States. Figures from Swiss customs show that the country has by far become the most important market for silver. Until 2019, the U.S. did not import much silver from Switzerland. Also, a lot of physical silver ends up in the United States through other channels, for example through Turkey and Australia. This is what the Silver Institute writes in a new update on the silver market this week.

Switzerland played an important role during the corona crisis by supplying the US market with additional gold. The country exported hundreds of tons of physical gold to the US in a few months to meet the huge demand for investment gold and replenish the gold reserves of the Comex. At one point, the price of gold in the US was almost $70 higher than the price of gold in London, making it lucrative to export more gold from Europe to the US.

We have written about these gold shipments before, but the fact that large quantities of silver have also been sent to the United States since then has long been underexposed. The chart below from the Silver Institute shows that Switzerland mainly exported silver to the United States over the past two years. In just two years, the US became the main market for silver. That silver was initially needed to replenish the stocks of the Comex, but later the demand for investment Silver also increased. Remember the silver squeeze of early 2021, when investors bought silver on a large scale and all investment silver was sold out for some time. That year, demand for investment silver in the U.S. rose to 118 million troy ounces, the highest level in six years.

Turkey

It’s not just Switzerland that exports more silver to the US. Turkey and Australia have also been producing much more investment silver for the US market in recent years. The Silver Institute writes that Turkey exported a record amount of 394 tons of silver bars last year, an increase of 160% compared to a year earlier. Much of it was destined for the American market. Some of that silver Turkey had to import from Switzerland, as its domestic silver mining production was 170 tons last year. That was not enough to meet the overall demand. Some of Switzerland’s silver exports to Turkey are therefore also attributable to increased demand for investment silver in the United States.

More demand for silver

It is not only in the United States that the demand for silver is increasing. The European market is also showing strong growth. Due to low interest rates, high inflation and geopolitical turmoil, investors and savers seek refuge in precious metals. And where gold is generally more attractive due to the exemption from VAT, investors also often buy silver coins under the favorable VAT margin regime. This is also reflected in the figures, because the export of silver from Switzerland to Austria largely reflects the production of silver Philharmoniker coins. The Austrian Mint produces these coins in large numbers to meet the demand for physical silver. Last year, the mint saw its production increase by 71% to 12 million troy ounces. That was the highest level in eight years.

In Germany, demand for silver rose 6% last year to a record 45.4 million troy ounces. This figure also confirms the trend that more and more savers and investors are taking refuge in precious metals. Not only gold, but also silver. The chart below shows that demand for investment silver is increasing in both Europe and the US.

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