Rabobank says global fertilizer outlook is bearish

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Rabobank has published a new report on the global fertilizer industry, continuing its bearish outlook through Q2 2014. In the report, the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research team looks at supply, demand and pricing for urea, phosphate, and potash in key international markets.

There is a deteriorating trend in the price of fertilizers and Rabobank expects this to continue in the coming quarter. China has exported significant volumes in its high tax season, and phosphate and urea prices will feel downward pressure as China exports even more in its low tax season. Fertilizer prices in the U.S. will be under downward price pressure from fading demand; prices in Q1 were elevated due to supply chain bottlenecks and a compressed application window. For urea, there could be a limited upside originating from Ukraine if market sentiment is impacted by a rationed supply from the country.

Regional Outlooks

  • United States: Increased side-dressing demand and supply chain filling ahead of the autumn application will not be enough to provide significant upside to global fertilizer prices in Q2. While demand could induce producers to direct volumes to the domestic market, impact on exports is likely to be limited.
  • EU: Nitrate and urea prices have found price support in recent weeks due to supply bottlenecks and early demand, but as demand enters its lull season, prices are set for downward correction.
  • Brazil: Even out of season, Brazil has a role to play in the global fertilizer arena. Potash producers are keen to secure volumes in the country. Higher prices in Brazil are supported by the expectation of ongoing depreciation of the Brazilian Real and high demand coming from farmers incentivized to increase yields.
  • India: Indian demand remains under pressure with the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers struggling to pay out subsidies. A potentially weakening rupee and disappointing monsoons could impact fertilizer demand further.
  • China: With the domestic application season mostly finished in China, the demand for phosphates and potassium fertilizers is weakening going into Q2. An upside in prices appears limited, despite the export window opening in mid-May for phosphates and in July for urea.
  • Ukraine: The future of Ukrainian production remains uncertain, as potentially increased gas prices, political instability and especially lower world prices could force the country to halt production. To date, the impact mainly been felt in the already tight ammonia markets.

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