Fertilizer Market Report – September 27, 2023

India Coming Up Short on Supply; Mississippi Low Water Levels Supporting Urea Prices; Tampa Ammonia Price Jumps

Last week we reported that on Sept 13, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers Limited (RCF) surprised the fertilizer market with an early tender for urea. That combined with China’s announcement that it will once again limit exports of urea pushed market prices up aggressively. Urea prices then settled down after a whopping 3.62mmt was offered into the tender with a lower-than-expected lowest offer price of US$400.50/mt CFR West Coast and US$405/mt CFR East Coast. The market was expecting prices in the US$412–US$420/mt range. This was in fact the most tonnage offered to India in the last three years.

The low price offered into the tender by one trader, however, pushed numerous suppliers away, resulting in only 525,000mt offered at that low price. The speculation now is that India will have to retender in order to fill the supply gap. Traders will likely push for higher prices in the next tender which should support global urea prices.

Mississippi River Water Levels Plummet for Second Year: See the Impact It’s Had So Far

There are reports of low-water level restrictions on barge traffic on the Mississippi impacting prompt fertilizer prices. Urea supply has been reported as being tight due partly to the low water levels. This will likely allow Canadian urea producers to maintain firm prices as it will likely hinder imports into Western Canada.

As August saw 61% of the Midwest experiencing abnormal dryness or drought conditions, the low water levels expected in the Mississippi River for September are likely to impact numerous industries.

October Tampa ammonia price rose to US$575/mt CFR, up a significant US$185/mt above September’s US$390/mt CFR. This will certainly help to support urea prices as ammonia is the feedstock for urea.

North America Urea Last Week – Markets Firm on Limited Volume Offered at Low Price into India

Urea prices in Western Canada were flat WoW at C$755/mt DEL, according to Green Markets. We believe rangebound urea prices in Western Canada will continue until India sorts out its supply issue, the Mississippi starts moving again and China determines what it will be doing with exports.

We are hearing urea C$770-C$795/mt DEL in Southern Saskatchewan.

Last week, urea NOLA prices increased to a range of US$405-US$435/st from the previous week’s US$390-US$408/st FOB due to low water levels on the Mississippi, according to Green Markets.

The currency and unit measure adjusted spread of C$146.50/mt between NOLA and Western Canada is down from the previous week but still within the long-term range meaning we are not expecting sudden moves in urea prices here in Western Canada if NOLA moves sideways.

North America Phosphate Last Week

According to Green Markets, the latest MAP offers in Western Canada were quoted at C$1,000-C$1,050/mt DEL, flat WoW.

We are seeing MAP at C$1,015/mt FOB in Southern Saskatchewan.

According to Green Markets, the latest MAP NOLA prices were quoted at US$615-US$645/st FOB, slightly lower than the previous week’s range of US$615-US$653/st.

Industry Tidbits
      • Results from a study in western Canadian show biological nitrogen fixation from pulse crops such as peas and lentils can help reduce the amount of mineral nitrogen fertilizer inputs required, Gainnews reported.
      • Ag retailers in Illinois were offering fertilizer prices this fall at nearly half what they were a year ago. Why and how? FarmProgress does a deep dive, plus what to look for next.
      • The United States imported a record volume of Russian fertilizers –worth US$944 million– between January and July this year, according to the latest data by the US statistics service. Russia was the second largest supplier of fertilizer to the United States this year, behind only Canada, which exported $2.8 billion worth of the commodity to the US from January to July.
      • A study by University of Saskatchewan researchers shows glyphosate, no-till systems and herbicide-tolerant crops benefit Prairie agriculture.
      • Ag sector watches for fallout from India-Canada spat, reported The Western Producer. India represents a significant market for Canadian agricultural exports. About half of the country’s lentil imports come from Saskatchewan. Total value of Saskatchewan exports to India last year was C$1.4 billion.