Fertilizer prices rise to new record highs, heralding more food inflation

Mar. 11, 2022 6:16 PM ETNutrien Ltd. (NTR), MOS, CF, NTR:CAMOO, VEGI, UAN, IPIBy: Carl Surran, SA News Editor96 Comments

fertilizer in farmer hand. NPK fertilizers are three-component fertilizers providing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium

iamporpla/iStock via Getty Images

Fertilizer prices continue to surge, Bloomberg reports, as supply upheaval from low-cost exporter Russia leaves governments struggling to secure crop nutrients, adding to concerns that global food inflation will accelerate.

According to the report, the Green Markets North American Fertilizer Index, New Orleans market prices for urea and a key potash index in Brazil all rocketed to record highs on Friday.

Russia's war in Ukraine also is raising the cost of natural gas, the main input for most nitrogen fertilizer, forcing some production cuts in Europe, and at the same time prices for staple crops such as wheat and corn are soaring - "a slow-moving disaster," a Bloomberg analyst says.

Brazil, a major agriculture exporter, imports 85% of its fertilizer consumption, with Russia as its main supplier, and depends on exports for at least 90% of its nitrogen and potash; it wants to exclude crop nutrients from any sanctions imposed on Russia.

Rising prices are stoking concerns from the Biden administration about potential price gouging; the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it will seek information on competition in the fertilizer, seed, farm input and food wholesale and retail markets.

North American fertilizer stocks Mosaic (NYSE:MOS), Nutrien (NYSE:NTR), CF Industries (NYSE:CF), Intrepid Potash (NYSE:IPI) and CVR Partners (NYSE:UAN) all hit record highs in recent days.

Adding to concerns over availability of supply in the event Russia and China continue to restrict exports, CF Industries CEO Tony Will said recently that fertilizer reserves are "as low as we've ever seen."

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