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Updated to Q3 2020
Availability into southeast Asia was poor in Q3. Demand from the region has been weak since Q2 2019. A fall in CPO prices has been behind the weak demand, as plantation owners look to retain staff over fresh purchases of MOP imports.
Southeast Asian buyers remained largely absent from the market in Q3. Demand from plantations was lacklustre because of low palm oil prices, political unrest and cashflow concerns.
MOP fertilizer supply was mixed in Q3, on a combination of anti-coronavirus measures and political turmoil in key producer Belarus. Belarusian Potash Co (BPC) confirmed industrial action in late August by workers at production partner Belaruskali had forced adjustments to its August potash sales plan. The companies have since claimed production has returned to normal.
Potash demand was mixed in Q3. As usual, harvest activity restricted demand in mid-Q3, but by the end of the quarter buyers were back and looking to refill inventories. With fertilizers deemed essential by governments, farmers will be able to stock up with relative ease.
Q3 supply was constant as market activity moved into a quieter period with fewer buyers participating as values held stable. This left inventory fairly balanced. Post-harvest application buying had not emerged, so there was no extra pull on volumes.
With attention focused on crops maturing and harvesting, there was the typical drop in demand as seen each year during this period. New purchasing is not anticipated to come until later in the quarter, with additional volumes necessary for both post-season applications and restocking for next spring’s needs.
Updated to Q4 2020
Southeast Asian potash inventories are likely to remain limited in Q4. Demand is weak and confusion in the market is widespread because marine authorities, ports, and private operators have continued to follow often contradictory government anti-viral laws.
Southeast Asian potash demand is unlikely to increase in Q4, despite a lack of purchasing activity in Q3. Continued disruption in the CPO futures market has made purchasing fresh MOP volumes less of a priority for many buyers.
Potash availability should remain steady in Q4, as distributors and farmers alike return from harvest activities to restock. There does, however, remain a possibility for a reduction in applications on some crops such as potatoes, because the pandemic is still causing major disruption to regular end-users such as the restaurant industry.
It is likely that European demand will increase in Q4, as farmers return to restock inventories after harvest. The long-term effects of the coronavirus lockdowns on nations’ economies may still be felt, however, potentially making fertilizers a less-important purchase.
US supply availability is expected to remain constant in Q4. Although domestic prices for barges and terminals have begun to climb, it has not appreciated enough to attract further imports that would shift the supply balance.
Demand is seen as increasing as harvest will be completed during the period. The current potash price will make it a favourable option for farmers looking to put another layer down before winter arrives. Recent improvements in crop prices also support increased fertilizer expenditure.
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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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