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Potash Fertilizer Market and Price Analysis

As one of the three main macronutrients, the potash industry supplies over 45 million tonnes of nutrient (K2O) to the global farming community, at a value exceeding $17 billion annually. Potassium is vital for all plants as it plays a key role in water uptake and the synthesis of plant material, improving plant health.

Key facts about the potash fertilizer market
  • Production of MOP, the most widely traded potassium fertilizer, exceeds 65 million tonnes annually, of which over 51 million tonnes is traded between countries.
  • The supply of MOP is highly concentrated, with the top seven corporate suppliers producing 84% of global supply. Geographically, Belarus, Canada and Russia are the largest producers, followed by China, Germany, Israel and Jordan.
  • Most countries of the world buy some potash. The largest markets are China, Brazil, India and the United States. The top 15 national fertilizer markets consume 78% of global potash, whilst some 133 countries consume only 5% of global potash.
  • China and India are two key import contract price markets, with Brazil, the United States, and Southeast Asia being the most important spot markets.
  • In recent years increased capacity and an expansion of the supplier base has heightened price competition and ensured a buyers’ market for MOP. Prices have reduced from above $500 per tonne in 2012 to current rates below $300 per tonne.

Key themes affecting the potash fertilizer market

High levels of investment by the major producers, including new entrants to the market such as EuroChem, has ensured that there is a supply surfeit of MOP. Producers have reacted by curtailing supply, with several prominent mine closures in Canada, Germany and the UK in recent years. With more capacity set to ramp-up over the next five years, producers will continue to face the delicate balance between developing their business and share with attempting to ensure adequate margins. The focus of the industry inevitably concentrates on the key markets of China, Brazil, India and the United States. Through the 2000s China provided much of the gearage for growth, increasing its use of MOP by over 10 million tonnes, which represented 48% of total global growth between 2000 and 2015. China has now committed to zero growth in chemical fertilizers from 2020. Whilst this will not eliminate growth in potassic fertilizers in the country, it will significantly reduce growth, and consequently Brazil has emerged as the key growth market, with the main suppliers seeking to integrate their supply chains in the country through to wholesalers. Changing fertilizer requirements, such as demand for fully soluble products to assist in water management, favour potassium sulphate and potassium nitrate and the emergence of polyhalite as a source of potassium and other nutrients, are all providing the mainstream MOP business with challenges for the 2020s.

International Potash prices
MOP fobVancouverspot standard$/t198-249233-288255-298
MOP fob Baltic spot standard$/t196-264212-297235-300
MOPcfrSoutheast Asia spot standard$/t230-262267-291287-311
MOPcfrEast Coast Latin America spot granular$/t256-267298-324318-337
SOPW European spot/contract standard$/t457-532486-546469-527


At IHS Markit we offer market-leading potash 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.

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