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March 31, 2022

Sulfur Fertilizer Pricing Update.

The market for sulfur fertilizers remains in a state of flux. In the short time since we published our last blog, domestic and world events have put increased pressure on the market supply and price of sulfur… and all fertilizers. As the tragic situation in Ukraine continues to unfold and inflation remains a concern – prices do not appear to be going down any time soon.

The latest reports from Fertecon Price Service show that between March 3rd and March 24th, 2022, the Vancouver spot prices ($/fob) rose from 330-340 to 385-400.

Acuity Commodities reports that prices continue to stabilize and firm. However, they indicate there remains “a sense of caution in the global market” resulting from the snug supply, higher oil prices, and reduced vessel capability. The state of affairs in China is also a potential source of concern. A resurgence in Covid-19 cases is leading to new restrictions in the world’s most populous country. Meanwhile, following the invasion of Ukraine, any perceived financial or economic support of Russia by China may lead to sanctions being imposed on Beijing.

Prolonged CP Rail shutdown averted.

Finally, a breath of good news. The lockout of 3,000 conductors, engineers, and train/yard workers by Canadian Pacific Rail (CP) ended after just two days. CP and Teamsters Canada agreed to settle their labor dispute by agreeing to binding arbitration.

This is a great relief to the North American agriculture sector. CP is a major shipper of grain, fertilizer, and raw sulfur (carrying nearly half of the sulfur exported from Canada to the US in 2021, according to Acuity Commodities). A prolonged strike was seen as disastrous, so industry watchers are breathing a collective sigh of relief.

The wild ride continues.

On March 28th, the Tampa price for the second quarter rose to $481/tonne, up from $292/tonne in the first quarter. That’s a big jump, but the average price over the first half of the year will be about the same as what we are seeing in Vancouver now. As a manufacturer, we’re telling our customers to keep following the market and avoid making rash decisions. From what we are seeing, I would not suggest carrying too much inventory into the summer.

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