Fertiliser business stagnates - Farmers Weekly

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Fertiliser business stagnates

The UK fertiliser market is nearly two months behind in volume after five months’ marketing, writes commentator Roger Chesher.

With crops under water, consumed by slugs, or not even planted yet, who can blame the grower for holding off?

The outlook for nitrogen sales worldwide is buoyant, with global demand exceeding supply, but UK prices have stagnated at October/November levels.

Urea prices dipped to around £315/t delivered to farm, but are now around £325/t and compounds are unchanged.

Unless there is a rapid and marked shift in the weather, not much business will be done before Christmas and the big questions are on the size of plantings (and of which crop) and the subsequent effect on demand for nitrogen.


Fertiliser business stagnates

THIS week sees the annual dinner and the 125th anniversary of the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association (FMA).

William Tooley, joint managing director of J H Bunn Ltd., succeeds Tony Robinson of Hydro as President.

It will also be the first opportunity for David Heather, who was appointed director-general on 1 October, to address all his members in his new capacity.

More to the point, the 38 member organisations will use this opportunity to invite a wide cross-section of their merchant and distributor customers to attend the occasion.

They must surely hope that the ensuing melée sufficiently raises the profile of fertilisers to stimulate some activity in this ailing half-billion-pound market.

We should expect prices for spring NPKs to be published at the end of the month and, as application time creeps nearer, purchasing and movement must start soon.

But very little has changed this week.

Farmers are only too well aware of the over capacity of the industry and of the fierce competition between an excess of merchants vying for the same business which results in stable, rock-bottom prices and product traded for little or no margin.

When energy prices work through, and when expected rationalisation occurs both in the fertiliser industry itself and the merchant trade, then prices will surely rise.

For many, however, there is still no incentive to purchase other than when needed, but the shrewd may wish to top up depleted farm stocks at bargain prices.

Rationalisation is further illustrated this week by Kemiras final withdrawal from retail business.

The remaining part of the formerly significant AgteK business in South Wales has been transferred, along with three field staff, to Wynnstay and Clwyd Farmers plc.


Immediate delivery N
(no market)
November delivery N
December delivery N Imported urea Imported N deliver December Imported 0.26.26 Domestic 0.24.24 blended Liquid N, 37kg/100l or 29.6% N/t
£85 £86 £88-90 £90-92 granular/
&prilled – no market
£75-78 £None available £110-114 £95/100,000 litres or £76/t

N/S (High S) N/S (Low S) TSP (47% P2O5) Muriate of Potash (60% K2O)
87 87 125 120


No urea market at present

  Imported CAN




Complex compounds

Northern Ireland Prices withdrawn No market 132 132 No market




Republic of Ireland* No market 140 140

*Note in the Republic of Ireland nutrients are expressed as elements not oxides. Analyses will not be directly comparable with those used in the UK..

*Prices in the Republic are IR£


Products not currently traded in volume.
Some spot business in grass sectors.

  20.10.10 and 25.5.5 complex/blend* KN KNS 20.5.15
England/Wales Grassland Markets 100-105/95-100 90-95 90-95 90-95
England Arable Markets No Market 93-96 93-96 93-96
Scotland 108-112/103-108 90-95 90-95 90-95

*Complex fertilisers are those where typically all nutrients are combined in one granule.

15.15.20 17.17.17
128 130-135

Note All illustrated prices are based upon 20 tonne loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably.

Source: Bridgewater Associates

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