FERTILISER prices continue to fall short of manufacturers expectations, with merchants taking lower margins.
Having opened the season with a recommended on-farm price of £110/t for Nitram, ICI commercial director, Stuart Beer, said the trade was now "testing the market" with lower quotes. Some deals had been done as low as £105/t, he said, though at this level merchants had been selling below cost. He expected values to settle at about £108/t for early deliveries.
So far farmer buying had been muted, he added. "Farmers will only buy once they are certain we are at the bottom of the market."
Despite strong pressure from imports, spurred on by further rises in the value of sterling, Mr Beer remained convinced prices would firm later in the season, once the EU restructures the minimum import price system.
Until then, the emphasis would be on quality, with farmers advised to base their fertiliser purchases on optimising yield and unit cost of production.