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Phosphates Fertilizer Market and Price Analysis

Phosphorus is one of the three main macronutrients required in agriculture, along with nitrogen and potassium. Plants absorb phosphorus as phosphate where it is a critical raw material for plant cells, where it plays a role in energy storage and transfer, photosynthesis, respiration and cell division. Over 200 million tonnes of the key raw material, phosphate rock, are produced each year, producing over 150 million tonnes of finished fertilizers for global farmers.

Key facts about the phosphate fertilizer market
  • Over 200 million tonnes of phosphate rock are mined every year, but only 30 million tonnes are traded internationally, with the balance processed at source into either phosphoric acid (the key phosphate intermediate) or finished fertilizers.
  • The phosphate industry is resource-based, expanding especially in the Middle East, North Africa and Russia where there are good-quality, commercially attractive resources. Morocco alone has over 50% of proven global reserves of phosphate.
  • The key phosphates sold are the ammoniated phosphates of diammonium phosphate (DAP) and monoammonium phosphate (MAP). These products account for 38% of all finished product sold, and 60% of the total phosphate molecules used by farmers.
  • Phosphate fertilizers are traded on a spot pricing basis, but the key raw materials, e.g. phosphate rock and phosphoric acid, are frequently sold on a contract basis, based on market price formulae.
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Key themes affecting the phosphate fertilizer market

The phosphate industry has changed significantly over the last 20 years, with the key driver for change being the availability of commercially viable phosphate resources. Significant investment in China, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Russia has increased production and exports from these countries, such that they now account for 75% of global DAP and MAP exports. China has moved from being a net importer of phosphate to a net exporter, and the United States has moved in the opposite direction. China, Brazil, India and the United States are the four largest consuming markets, accounting for over 60% of phosphate demand. As China and the US remain major production hubs, Brazil and India have emerged as the two key markets for imports, for both phosphate fertilizers and raw materials, and therefore generating vital spot and contract information for the purposes of price setting.

With only but a few players exerting huge influence, the impact of sharp developments in any of these is easily magnified on a global scale. Mainland China’s temporary retreat from export markets from Q4 2021 (which followed a sharp supply shock in Q1 2021 in Hubei province, caused by the early emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic), Russia’s consequent cap on exports, the imposition of countervailing duties in the United States against Russian and Moroccan phosphate fertilizers, or India’s seemingly bottomless support to domestic production all resulted in continued price hikes during 2021.

All the while, the hopes of junior miners and project activity overall are reviving – partly hoping that a need to diversify fertilizer supply will be eventually financed. Emerging demand from sectors such as automotive vehicles (for lithium iron phosphate – LFP – production) could also support further capacity growth.

Key indicators of phosphate markets
20172018201920202021
DAP fob US Gulf$/t354416338320652
DAP fob China$/t358412346323598
Total demand as P2O5mln t nutrient47.046.846.647.148.1
China DAP exportsmln t product8.48.99.29.910.6
India DAP importsmln t product4.83.64.84.13.5

Solutions

At IHS Markit we offer market-leading phosphates fertilizer information solutions via our globally recognised Fertecon service. Specialists in offering comprehensive data and analysis across the global fertilizer market, with current, short-term and long-term solutions to support all operational needs in your organisation.

Current price reports
Weekly Report

Keep abreast of the phosphates market and spot new opportunities with our weekly market report. Key benefits include reliable price discovery, news on key developments, and trade statistics and news alerts.

More about our methodology
Short-term price forecasts
Monthly Futures Report

Plan for the mid-term and make smarter investment decisions with our phosphates market intelligence. Key benefits include global market overview, major company news, and trade statistics alerts.

Long-term market outlooks
Quarterly Market Reports

Steer your business in the right strategic direction with in-depth quarterly reports on both the market for phosphates, and the market for it's raw materials, including phosphate rock, phosphoric acid and elemental phosphorus. Both reports include price, supply demand and trade forecasts out 10 years, comprehensive market analysis, and coverage of hot topics.

Bespoke solutions
API and Data Feeds

Pricing, supply-demand and forecasts delivered directly to your organisation to support centralised models and trading systems used by team members across your business.

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One-time Data Exports

Over three decades of historical pricing, production and trade data across all food commodities sectors available to purchase to support your organisation with strategic analysis and economic modelling.

Consulting

Consulting services spanning all your needs in the agricultural commodities and processed food markets, from long-term forecasting beyond what is available in our subscription services to market studies for financial investments reviewing everything from market forecasts to competitor intelligence.

Fertilizers - Phosphates Experts

Elisavet Levogianni

Elisavet has been working as a phosphate market analyst since 2019 when joined the S&P Global Agribusiness. Her main area of focus has been upstream phosphates, including phosphate rock and phosphoric acid, and downstream phosphates, particularly fertilizers.Before that, Elisavet worked for ADM ISI, a financial broker, as a Research Analyst for 2 years. She holds two MSc titles in Agricultural Economics from the University of Athens, Greece and the University of Missouri-Columbia, USA. Her main interests lie in the performance/longevity and strategy of agricultural cooperatives.Elisavet is originally from Naxos, a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, where local farmers pay attention to the quality of their products due to limited natural resources, with a focus on environmental sustainability and wise use of inputs. Both of her parents work in the private and public agricultural sector of Greece, they hold an MSc in Agricultural Sciences.

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Sarah Marlow

Sarah has overall responsibility for the current information offering from Fertecon including the weekly and bi-weekly market reports on fertilizers and fertilizer raw materials. She has specialized in the Phosphates, Sulphur and Sulphuric Acid markets but over her career has covered all products in the fertilizer space. Having started in the industry in 1991, primarily as a price reporter and editor of regular market reports, Sarah moved on to focus on the short-medium term outlook for Phosphates when she joined FRC in 2001.Phosphates remained her main specialty in 2012 when she went to work for CRU before re-joining Fertecon in 2015. After graduating with an MA in French Literature from the University of St. Andrews and prior to joining Fertecon, Sarah worked at an investment management firm in the City of London for two years followed by a further two years at a commercial property company.

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Alberto Persona

Alberto has been working as a fertilizer market analyst since 2010, working at S&P Global Commodity Insights since November 2015 after a few years at CRU. His main area of focus has been phosphates - including upstream (rock, acid, elemental) and downstream (fertilizers, feed, food, industrial) industries. Over the years he has been involved in a series of cross-commodity developments, such as demand forecasting, cost estimation, price forecasting methodologies.Before CRU, He worked at FEEM, an environmental economics research foundation. He holds two MSc Economics titles, the most recent one from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He's a native Italian speaker, fluent in English, learning Japanese, and able to hold a conversation in Spanish or French (as long as the counterpart is understanding).

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Allan Pickett

Allan had roles in sales, marketing analysis and consulting. He started his career with Monsanto in 1984 and has worked at CRU International Ltd, leading their fertilizer division between 2003 and 2010. Between 2010 and 2015 he ran his own consulting business assisting expoloration and development companies assess new phosphate and potash resources.Since joining Fertecon in 2015 he was initially responsible for the long-term analysis team assessing the phosphates, sulphur and potash markets, as well as consulting work including market feasibility studies and arbitration expert witness assignments.

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Neil Griffiths

Neil is responsible for researching and writing the current information report on phosphates, a global market and price review of the week. His main area of focus since joining the industry in 2000 has been phosphates and he has experience producing short term forecast reports projecting the outlook for prices, supply and demand. He specializes in price discovery and has covered all the nutrients in the fertilizer space, taking overall current information responsibility for the European, sulphur and potash markets during his career, as well as phosphates.He became part of the Agribusiness team when Fertecon, where he had worked for almost 7 years, was acquired by Informa in 2012 and IHS Markit in 2019. Before Fertecon, he worked at ICIS and PKF International as a trainee accountant. He holds a BSc in Economics and Politics from the University of Bristol.

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