Fertilizer Prices Climb to New North American Peak, Squeezing Crop Margins
(Bloomberg) -- A gauge of North American fertilizer prices touched a new record high, driving up costs for farmers who are already experiencing tight margins and threatening to make food even more expensive.
The Green Markets North American Fertilizer Price Index rose 3% to $1,048 per short ton on Friday, rocketing past an October peak for the index that began in January 2002.
An energy pinch in Europe is causing soaring prices for natural gas, the main feedstock for most nitrogen fertilizer, and coal use is dropping in China. Fertilizer plants in Europe have been forced to shut down or reduce production. That’s driving up international prices for crop nutrients.
Top fertilizer producers Nutrien Ltd. and Mosaic Co. expect prices to keep climbing, according to executive comments during earnings calls this week. Fertilizer normally accounts for about 35% of a corn farmer’s operating costs. That number could jump to 45% in 2022, according to Bloomberg’s Green Markets.
Prices in the inland U.S. “have ratcheted up to more than $1,000” per short ton in recent weeks, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report.
In the U.S., some corn growers are seeing prices that are more than double what they paid last year. Across Brazil, about a third of the nation’s coffee farmers don’t have enough fertilizer. In Thailand, some rice farmers are calling on the government to intervene in the spiraling market. With fertilizer markets now seeing unprecedented supply shocks and record prices, it means even more food inflation across the world.
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