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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 phosphates fertilizer market
  • Over 200 million tonnes of phosphate rock is mined every year, but only 30 million tonnes is 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.
  • Recent investment into integrated low-cost capacity has put pressure on market prices since 2018, with key benchmark fob prices for DAP reducing from above $435 per tonne to below $280 per tonne

Key themes affecting the phosphates 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.

The industry faces significant challenges in the future. Increasingly stringent environmental policies related to both production and finished product quality mean that the disposal of by-product gypsum from phosphoric acid production is becoming an increasing cost for many producers, and the requirement that fertilizers contain minimal quantities of heavy metals has an impact on the valuation and use of raw materials. Climate change, especially in relation to water management, has resulted in increased demand for fully soluble phosphates for use in fertigation. Except for the current supply of ammonia, phosphate production can be effectively carbon-neutral in terms of emissions, but the supply of sulphur in a decarbonising world may present long-term challenges, creating continual uncertainty over market pricing.

International phosphate prices
201720182019
DAP fob US Gulf$/t320-385385-439255-417
DAP fob China$/t330-410404-420278-405
DAP cfr India$/t322-393392-432295-417
MAP cfr Brazil$/t330-405397-460280-435
TSP fob Morocco$/t260-310300-361253-361
Phosphoric acid cfr India$/t 100% P2O5545-590678-768625-750

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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