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Upstream Update: Wholesale Pricing Well Below Year-Ago

June 14, 2013
By: Davis Michaelsen, Pro Farmer Inputs Monitor Editor

upstreamWholesale pricing data from upstream gives clues to medium-term fertilizer pricing, and as growers scramble to cover extra nitrogen, prices continue to fall with the notable exception of DAP into NOLA. July first may report further declines in urea and UAN as China's export window will open with a 2% tariff. (All values expressed in metric tons.)


Nitrogen --

Prilled and granular urea both fell in wholesale markets during the week and values at all locations are well below year-ago with Cornbelt urea nearly half the price it was during the same week last year.

Yuzhny urea fell $15.00 to $327/ton -- $135/ton below year-ago. Yuzhny is the port of Ukraine and declines in FSU natgas have allowed brisk production on favorable margins.

Middle East urea fell to $327/ton as well, shedding $14.00 week-over, $182.00 less than year-ago.

NOLA pricing slid just $2.00/ton to $331 -- $227/ton below year-ago. Corn Belt pricing fell $14.00 to $395.00/ton -- a whopping $305/ton below year-ago. This is a corrective retracement made possible by favorable FSU natgas and Chinese oversupply.

Phosphate --

Prices have tumbled for wholesale DAP and the market is signaling P may have found support at current levels. Inventories in the U.S. and worldwide are robust, and U.S. growers have banked a fair amount of both P&K, weakening projected demand.

Phosphate retreated during the report week, but is showing signs of leveling off. Tampa DAP fell just 1 dollar to $476/ton -- $89.00 below year-ago. Morocco DAP unchanged week-over at $508 -- $74.00 below year-ago. Central Florida DAP slid $14 to $449/ton -- just $27 below year-ago. NOLA DAP moved $5 higher to $427 -- $68 below year-ago.

Phosphate rock from Morocco fell $14.00 during the report week and is limiting upside risk in DAP pricing -- $44.00 below year-ago.

Tampa ammonia and sulphur both unchanged with ammonia at $565 -- $31.00 below year-ago; sulphur at $155.00 -- $25.00 below year-ago. Ammonia and sulphur are components in DAP/MAP production, and when DAP moves higher, it is usually ammonia pricing to blame.

Potassium --

Muriate of Potash was largely unchanged, and we expect potassium to maintain the most consistent trajectory of any nutrient...that is to say, potash pricing doesn't move much.

Brazil and Southeast Asia both unchanged week-over at $445 and $443 respectively Brazil is $80/ton below year-ago, and SE Asia pricing is $57.00 below year-ago. Corn Belt MOP softened a dollar to $448/ton -- $68.00 below year-ago.

Perspective --

Current wholesale pricing for finished products and for feedstocks suggest limited upside risk for retail nutrient in general. However, these values fail to factor in transport fees from port to farm. Nor do they reflect local demand which may vary widely through the summer as some growers in the Midwest will replace lost N.

Demand for UAN solutions is where we see the most price risk at this point, and side dress demand may raise prices. Beyond that, ammonia -- here we mean ammonia in its pure form, not anhydrous ammonia -- has leveled off, stifling downward action for DAP. But low pricing for phosphate rock from Morocco should diminish the sting.

 Photo credit: D Michaelsen, Inputs Monitor

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