(NDAgConnection.com) – Amid extreme market volatility and record-high prices, fertilizer consumption suffered in 2022. According to a new Rabobank report, a recovery in consumption is possible in some regions in 2023, with fertilizer prices lowering and commodity prices at historically high levels.
When geopolitics meets fertilizer markets, things get bumpy for fertilizers. That is exactly what has happened over the past two years, with tensions peaking after the invasion of Ukraine. But for 2023, we can expect things to settle somewhat, says Bruno Fonseca, Senior Analyst – Farm Inputs at Rabobank. “Price movements during these past months have borne a resemblance to those of certain periods in the past,” he says. “History repeats itself. That becomes more evident when we explore historical trends in the affordability index over time.”
The affordability index shows the relative price of a basket of commodities in comparison to a basket of fertilizer. Current price trends and volatility are in line with a three-year cycle of peaks. If history is to be believed – especially trends observed following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis – then prices should come down in the coming months.
“The index’s moving average is trending lower, as fertilizer prices are returning to pre-war levels,” Fonseca says. “For the next three months, the index will continue to trend downward but remain above normal. The key point of attention is on nitrogen products, as the natural gas crisis in Europe has the potential to make urea and ammonia more expensive and, therefore, to keep the index at a high level.”
The nitrogen-based fertilizer market is the most volatile among all fertilizers due to its intrinsic connection with oil and natural gas markets. Thus, as those commodities become more volatile, urea and ammonia prices are expected to go with the tide.