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Updated to Q4 2019
Potash inventories in Q4 are likely to remain tight, more on a lack of demand than from reduced supply. Demand from southeast Asia has been weak since Q2, pulled down by a mix of low crude palm oil prices and pressure from environmental lobbies on the crop – notably in Europe.
Southeast Asian potash demand, having been weak since the second quarter, continues to show limited signs of recovery. Plantation owners have skipped an application, and although this means MOP applications are now overdue, it remains to be seen if this will result in fresh demand this quarter. The settlement of the China and India long-term import contracts will likely offer direction to the market.
Potash availability will likely decline into Q4, as many producers have opted to cut production in a time of weak demand, and bearish pricing. This is not an unusual decision for the industry’s big names, however, and follows a pattern of curtailed capacity – albeit this year’s curtailments appear a little later than usual.
It is unlikely Europe will see a spike in demand with the approach of Q4, amid a seasonal slowdown, and poor winter weather. There is a possibility of some restocking activity amid the bearish market and low pricing.
In the US with an anticipated decrease for post-harvest applications due to the lower crop prices, uncertainty over planting intentions for next year and a potentially lower yield in certain states, supply balance should be stable. If this pullback materialises it would cause less pressure on the volumes in place until the next increase buying comes ahead of spring, leaving inventory levels fairly balanced.
With weaker agricultural market conditions persisting, including ongoing impacts for tariff disputes, it is expected there will be a drop in fall demand as there is increasing reluctance to commit to additional inputs following a very trying year for many farmers. Also adding to a drawdown is that any future needs appear could be covered by the amount of carryover from applications missed this past spring.
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Potash or Potassium (K) is the seventh most common naturally-occurring element in nature, and it is one of the three main macronutrients required for plants…
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