The World Shall Be Fertilized

August 12, 2009 07:00 PM

Rachel Duff, Farm Journal intern

The fertilizer industry may be back in demand for late 2009 and early 2010, according to the International Fertilizer Industry Association's (IFA) Fertilizer Outlook 2009-2013. This expected increase in demand follows a sudden drop in demand for 2008 and 2009, says a press release by IFA.
After the global economic downturn and credit crisis in most of the leading fertilizer-consuming countries, the world fertilizer markets drooped, as well. Import and sales of fertilizer fell apart in late 2008. IFA estimated that world fertilizer consumption is down 5.1% from 168.1 million tonnes of nutrients in 2007 and 2008 to 159.6 million tones in 2008 and 2009. The beginning of 2009 was not good for the industry because of the lack of sale prospects and demand recovery.
The factors that play into fertilizer demand for medium to long-term are:
·        Population growth
·        Diet diversification due to average income growth
·        Bioenergy development
·        Need to intensify currently cultivated land
·        Environmental policies
·        Technological developments.
For the short-term outlook on demand, the economic downturn is by far the main factor. Weather conditions can also have a significant impact on year-to-year variations, says Patrick Heffer, executive secretary for the agriculture committee of IFA.
Some of these factors increase demand while some decrease demand for fertilizer. Population growth, diet diversification, bioenergy development and the need to intensify currently cultivated land tend to increase fertilizer consumption in the medium to long term, says Heffer. Environmental policies and technological developments tend to bring fertilizer consumption down.
Depending on the specific countries, the balance between these two sets of factors will vary, he says. The influence of the first set of factors is greater in developing countries, and the influence of the second set is dominant in developed countries. The weight of each set evolves over time.
The outlook is looking better, though, for the fertilizer industry. IFA's outlook reports show that market conditions could be steadily improving for 2009 and 2010 because the agricultural commodity prices are remaining positive, and the growth trends are fairly stable. In the outlook reports, IFA also foresees a potential fertilizer supply surplus for coming years.

For More: International Fertilizer Industry Association

You can e-mail Rachel Duff at


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