Food demand to boost fertilizers - PotashCorp

15 July 2008 16:20  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS news)--High food prices and less reserves will drive increased crop production in the near future and lead to an increase in demand for fertilizers, the chief executive of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PotashCorp) said on Tuesday.

Bill Doyle said the world had consumed more grain than it had produced for eight of the last 10 years and was becoming increasingly reliant on reserves.

“The world needs more food and farmers are being paid higher prices to deliver more grain. This is providing the necessary incentive to increase production,” Doyle said.

Meanwhile, the economies of many developing nations were allowing their citizens to pay for more nutritional diets than ever, Doyle said at the Southwestern Fertilizer Conference.

Millions of people were “at a situation in their lives where they can afford to eat meat for the first time”, Doyle said.

“When you see GDP [gross domestic product] growth of 10% in China over a 15-year period, year after year after year, you go from an economy where essentially no one - or just the politicians - were eating proteins, to a situation where protein demand was outstripping supply of protein,” Doyle said.

Doyle predicted an increase in meat prices and said individuals in the US had been “spoiled” by only having to spend 10% of their incomes on food, compared with 70% in India and 40% in China.

“People are going to eat better, they’re going to be more educated, they’re going to be more peaceful. It’s going to be a good thing for the world but we’re going to need to accept we’re going to have higher food prices,” Doyle said.

In 1950, 1.3 acres of cropland existed per each person, Doyle said, while by 1990 that number had shrunk to 0.68 acres per person and was expected to continue to decline to about half an acre of cropland per person by 2020.

Doyle defended the fertilizer industry against charges it was the cause of increasing global food costs, claiming that a food shortage had been developing for a number of years and that farm and fertilizer costs made up a small fraction of costs at grocery stores.

“The only way to fight food inflation is to grow more food,” Doyle said.

The Southwestern Fertilizer Conference is held annually in San Antonio.

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By: David Rosen
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