Agoracom Blog

Brazilian and North American fertilizer demand to rally

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 12:56 PM on Monday, July 20th, 2015


  • Global fertilizer demand set to recover in the second half of 2015
  • PotashCorp reported that it expects the recent rise of global planted acreages to slow
  • Brazilian fertilizer purchases “are expected to accelerate in the third quarter and could lead to a more condensed delivery period”

Global fertilizer demand is set to recover in the second half of 2015, as farmer demand from North America and Brazil recovers, Canadian producer PotashCorp has said.

PotashCorp also reported that it expects the recent rise of global planted acreages to slow, as agricultural commodity markets cool.

North American potash demand is expected to rise as farmers address a mounting deficit in application.

Brazilian potash demand is expected to accelerate ahead of the country’s main planting season, helped by a recent improvement in crop prices, and a recently announced farm credit programme.

Improved demand

“Following a slower start in Brazil, we anticipate potash imports will accelerate during the third quarter,” PotashCorp said.

Brazilian fertilizer purchases “are expected to accelerate in the third quarter and could lead to a more condensed delivery period,” PotashCorp Said.

“Potash demand in Brazil slowed in first-half 2015 as farmers were concerned about weaker crop prices, the lower purchasing power of the Real and delayed credit availability from the government,” the report said.

The same dynamics will be seen in urea, with imports improving in the third quarter of 2015, in line with the same time last year, when imports reached a record 4m tonnes over the year. Brazilian phosphate imports are also seen rising next quarter.

Tentative buyers

North American demand is also expected to rise against the first half of the year, leaving full year sales down from the record 63m tonnes achieved in 2014 but remaining “at historically strong levels”.

“In North America, demand was lower in the first half of 2015 but is expected to be similar to historical levels in the second half”, the report said.

“Buyers were tentative in the first half as the spring application window was shortened and farmers weighed the impact of lower crop prices,” the report said, also noting record offshore imports pressuring North American producer sales.

“We expect healthy demand in the second half as crop prices have improved and farmers look to replenish soil nutrients after recent large harvests,” said PotashCorp.

Mounting deficit

The increased North American demand is driven by a mounting potash deficit.

PotashCorp notes that application rates have held steady in North America over the past 30 years, while yields per acre have increased significantly thanks to the use of higher-yield cultivars.

As a result of this, PotashCorp estimates that since 2010, the depletion of potash in US farmland soil has exceeded application by more than 7m short tons per year.

“Closing this gap would require farmers to nearly double application rates compared to current levels,” PotashCorp said.

The group notes application deficits across US growing regions, with the largest in the Central Plains.

“Relatively large potash application deficits were found in most major crop producing regions of the US,” the report said.

Farmland growth to ease

PotashCorp also noted that expects the rate of increase in global planted acreages to slow.

By breaking new ground, and by double and triple cropping existing ground, PotashCorp reports that farmers have added over 160 million planted acres to agricultural production in the past ten years, “an area similar to that of the US corn and soybean crop”.

“In response to rising global demand and higher crop prices, farmers have increased planted acreage over the past decade,” PotashCorp said.

As global commodity prices slow, PotashCorp expects that the rate of increase in planted area could slow, and “some marginal acreage could be removed from production”.

Chinese demand

In China, PotashCorp expects “strong farmer affordability and agronomic need will continue to have a positive impact on potash demand in 2015”.

Supply contracts to China have already been negotiated by the North American potash cartel Canpotex, of with PotashCorp is a member.

Canpotex has also signed supply deals to Indian groups, where PotashCorp expects “continued growth in 2015”.

PotashCorp estimates Indian imports at 5m tonnes over the whole 2015.

Kharif planting

The group reports that India’s monsoon “got off to a strong start in June, which supported Kharif crop planting and fertilizer demand”.

Kharif crops, usually grains and pulses, are planted with the start of the monsoon rains.

PotashCorp expects Indian urea imports to slow from the recent rapid pace, but leaving 2015 purchases well above last year.

India is expected to import over 5m tonnes of diammonium phosphate in 2015, compared to 3.6m in 2014.


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