Rabobank’s global fertilizer outlook for the first quarter of 2014 is decidedly bearish.
“In urea, a temporary imbalance between supply and demand could put further temporary upward pressure on prices,” the analysts say. “Phosphate demand in Q1 2014 is finding support from speculative buying from the U.S. and Brazil, with prices finding additional support from elevated sulphur prices. However, at the end of this quarter, prices for both phosphates and urea could fall to levels seen before the recent price spike, as supply will exceed demand. Potash prices are likely to remain stable at current levels, with overcapacity looming over the market and supply chains already appearing full.”
Specifically in the United States, phosphates and urea prices appear to be heating up, but the U.S. market for potash is still slow.
“Buying is mostly limited by high inventory levels and U.S. potash inventory levels do not yet reflect supply cuts by producers,” Rabobank analysts add. “U.S. producers’ inventories only declined 1 percent in December to 2.99 million tons, down from 3.01 million tons in November, limiting the room for the supply pipeline to take in substantially more volumes in Q1.”