No change for fertiliser prices
FERTILISER prices will remain at similar levels in 2001, say manufacturers.
But they deny profiteering at farmers expense.
So far, UK makers have been able to make this seasons structured price rises stick. Ammonium nitrate values started off at about £112/t in the summer and are on course to hit £135/t by March. That is a rise of about £30/t compared with 1999/2000.
Expect little difference next season, says Kemiras Emyr Evans, who is also chairman of the Northern Regional Council of the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association.
"Even at this years levels we will be lucky to break even," he says, although he points out that last seasons low prices will affect the next set of financial results, as manufacturers operate on a calendar financial year. "But even next year we wont be looking to get fat," he adds.
Companies are well aware of the dire income figures for farming, says Mr Evans. But FMA figures for one large UK fertiliser maker show it lost money in seven out of the past 11 years. It made a net income before tax of just £1.5m in that time. This year, it expects a pre-tax profit of £1.8m. "That is not the sort of money you would expect a hi-tech industry to be making," says Mr Evans.
The FMA looks forward to any inquiry that might be made by the Competition Commission into fertiliser pricing after pressure by farming unions, says Richard Martin, chairman of the FMA agriculture committee. "I think we would welcome it. We have nothing to hide, and it would help clear the air." *
Makers expect fertiliser prices to hold up next season.