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Published: August 2010
In 2008, demand for phosphate fertilizers in general was very weak, and there was no quick rebound in consumption in 2009. The reasons were record high prices for phosphate fertilizers in the 2007/2008 season and the insensitivity of crops to lower applications of phosphates in one year, which led many farmers to reduce phosphate fertilization. In addition there is an ongoing slow change in the pattern of phosphate fertilizer consumption, away from normal superphosphate (NSP) toward higher-analysis fertilizers such as mono- and diammonium phosphate (MAP and DAP) and triple superphosphate (TSP).
Asia accounts for roughly 65% of world capacity and production, followed by Central and South America. Capacity expansions or new NSP capacities have been announced by Brazilian producers Copebras and Bunge, and in Egypt.
Asia is the largest normal superphosphate–consuming region, followed by Central and South America and Oceania. International trade in this product is minimal and has little effect on the world balance. This product has relatively low nutrient analysis and generally poor physical properties. Its large-scale use tends to be restricted to developing regions that have phosphate rock resources that are not particularly suitable feed for the more sophisticated chemical processes involved in producing phosphoric acid and ammonium phosphate.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of normal superphosphate:
The outlook for the fertilizer market to the year 2014, given by the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) in mid-2010, is for a growing agricultural market. After farmers reduced applications of P and K fertilizers in the last two fertilizer seasons, P fertilizer demand is expected to grow substantially in the next few years. However, the outlook also points to major uncertainties, the most important being the evolution of the financial crisis, policy priorities in China, and subsidy schemes in India. However, NSP will benefit only to a limited extent from the generally positive outlook for growth of almost 4% annually in total P2O5 consumption. In 2009, only about 15% of all phosphate fertilizers was applied in the form of NSP. Most announced additional production capacity for P fertilizers will be in the form of DAP, MAP and to a lesser extent TSP. Except for Central and South America, almost no new production capacity for NSP has been announced for the forecast period.
Ammonium phosphates are expected to account for essentially all of the growth in world phosphate fertilizer consumption, as well as continuing to impinge on the markets for other phosphate fertilizer materials.