Economic and Social Department

 global information and early warning system on food and agriculture

 food outlook
No. 1 Rome, February 2003

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Current Production and Crop Prospects


Carryover Stocks

Export Prices

Fish and Fisheries Products


Appendix Tables



International Urea spot prices remained stable through December 2002, but began to rise in early January 2003, to an average 8 to 16 percent above those in January 2002 It is foreseen that prices will continue to increase especially in the Black Sea due to strong demand from Latin America, Turkey and Europe. China has announced its import quota of 1.8 million tonnes urea for 2003. The quota will probably be released on a quarterly basis. Ninety percent is for state-owned companies and the remainder for private firms. China and Viet Nam are reportedly reluctant to import urea at these increased prices. Brazil has already imported large quantities, but needs further product for February. Brazil might find it difficult to obtain credit at such prices. The anti-dumping duties in Europe on product from the Russian Federation will also contribute to the unviability of sales at such prices. Argentina has technical problems with production plants and prices there remain firm. The domestic demand in Indonesia is rising as January and February are peak application months. Indonesia's export allocation is 60 000 tonnes of urea for the first quarter. In the Baltic Sea region availability is restricted until the second half of February due to adverse weather conditions. In the Arab Gulf prices remain firm or are expected to increase. The domestic market in the United States for top dressing is weak but will become stronger shortly.

Ammonia prices have shown slight fluctuations from November 2002 to January 2003. In the Caribbean, prices have increased and the tight outlook is sustained by the shutdown of the plants in Venezuela. Due to logistical problems ammonia prices have been driven upwards in the Black Sea and the Arab Gulf. In the Far East, plant turnarounds keep the supply tight. Markets in Europe are opening up. Uncertainty about US gas prices contributed to the expectation that the Black Sea prices would remain firm.

International spot prices of ammonium sulphate were some 26 - 46 percent lower in the eastern and western Europe markets in January 2003 compared to the same period in 2002. However, prices are rising in the Black Sea region due to strong domestic demand and exports to the Mediterranean.

Diammonium phosphate (DAP) prices mostly remained stable or strengthened somewhat from December 2002 into early 2003, as rising raw material prices continue to increase the cost of production. The exception was Jordan where prices fell. The United States has commitments to China and is supplying Latin America. In North Africa prices have firmed because of a seasonally strong demand from Europe. Viet Nam is expected to enter the market in the near future. In Mexico, credit problems might lead to lower imports, which might have an unfavourable impact on US exports. The season in the United States is expected to start and demand will be high in March-May. The Russian Federation has shipment problems due to ice but intends to export all DAP produced nationally to Brazil and the United States, while Morocco is supplying India. Demand from Nepal and Pakistan is high.

Prices for triple superphosphate (TSP) remained stable from late 2002 into early 2003 and in January were between 1 percent and 3 percent higher than a year earlier. TSP from Morocco has been sold to Latin America and Europe. European demand is expected to increase in March/April. China plans for a shutdown of its TSP plant, but will later continue supplying Bangladesh.

Latest prices for muriate of potash (MOP) have decreased between 1 percent and 4 percent compared to the same period in 2002. Substantial imports by China are keeping prices stable. In the Far East market prices are firm. Demand is starting again in Europe and the United States in the coming weeks for spring season planting. Canada is supplying Europe, Latin America and China. In Turkey MOP prices are continuing to rise. The Russian Federation is delivering large amounts of MOP to South Africa.

Average Fertilizer Spot Prices (bulk, f.o.b.)

Change from
last year 1/
  ( . . . . . . . . . . . . US$/tonne . . . . . . . . . . . . . ) ( . percentage . )
eastern Europe 100-102 110-114 103-105 7.8
Near East 120-124 129-132 111-113 16.2
Ammonium Sulphate        
eastern Europe 37-39 36-39 49-53 -26.7
western Europe 38-40 38-40 70-75 -46.2
Diammonium Phosphate        
Jordan 167-170 156-164 157-161 1.4
North Africa 154-157 154-160 146-152 5.4
U.S. Gulf 149-151 152-154 152-155 -0.1
Triple Superphosphate        
North Africa 126-128 126-129 120-126 3.3
U.S. Gulf 130-133 129-131 126-131 1.1
Muriate of Potash        
eastern Europe 89-104 90-104 90-107 -1.6
Vancouver 110-123 110-121 110-129 -3.5
western Europe 105-115 105-115 111-116 -3.3
Source: Compiled from Fertilizer Week and Fertilizer Market Bulletin. 1/ From mid-point of given ranges

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