Market Update December 2023
Sitting here reading this you are in one of two camps, you have harvest completed and your header is in the shed and you’re relaxed or you’re in the middle of harvest and likely been held up by the rain or high moisture levels and anything but relaxed! Whichever camp you sit in I’m sure you’re wondering just how our weather forecasters got it so wrong. To go from a El Nino forecast to a near La Nina and then getting 1-3 inches of rain has most of us a bit bewildered but it seems like that was the pattern of 2023! The positive of the recent rain is it sets up cropping for 2024 with many of you commenting how well the rain soaked in meaning it was dryer than everyone thought.
The recent rain has caught everyone by surprise as no one in the industry forecasted such a wet summer and has enough stock on hand. That means everyone has been busy ordering stock so our clear advice is to be as organised as possible over the next few weeks until all the new stock arrives. We have our factory and store staff working extra hours over the break to ensure you get the stock you need for summer spraying so please get in touch with the team to plan through the next few weeks.
Glyphosate & Paraquat
Price has softened slightly in the last month for early 2024 delivery. While it’s not back to the end of June pricing we’ve seen Glyphosate 450 jump nearly $1L in costs since June from high $3’s/L to high $4/L and now starting to see prices come back to lower $4s. Given this and the recent rain the risk is now firmly weighted toward securing stock rather than paying too much which is a complete turn around from last month. We strongly recommend looking ahead to sowing and taking an appropriate position.
The same dynamic is at play with Paraquat. Over the past two years price has fallen from as high as $10L for Paraquat 250 to below $4L. The question is when do you stock your sheds? Discussing this with customers at our Minlaton store opening last week the consensus was to compare current pricing to a two or three year average in order to determine ‘value’. Whilst no one can predict the future it is worth reviewing average pricing over the last three years for both of these actives and asking yourself the question is it a good time to stock up?
India has finally yielded to prevailing market rates and acquired 55,000 metric tons of DAP at $595 CFR. As the country approaches an election year, coupled with undetermined new subsidies, Indian DAP inventories are at historical lows necessitating ongoing purchases of additional cargoes.
In Brazil and Latin America, domestic markets are experiencing increased demand. Traditionally reliant on Chinese phosphate, these regions must now explore longer-haul options such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and North Africa which is expected to keep prices stable short-term in our opinion.
Still no clarity on Chinese phosphate exports. The clock is ticking for the Australian market to source Phosphates in time ex China if we get any sort of early break to our winter plant.
Global Urea markets have experienced limited activity this month with prices softening. A recent tender out of Indonesia received offers that were $20 lower than the preceding transaction at $340 per metric ton on Free On Board (FOB). The supplier opted to decline these offers primarily from traders resulting in a market currently in a holding pattern awaiting a clear sense of direction. Our view is the Urea market will soften further in Australia in the New Year and we need to be ready to purchase when the time is right.
The global shipping markets are undergoing significant fluctuations currently. Challenges in the Pacific market arise from a decrease in Chinese coal imports, affecting overall stability, particularly for larger vessels. The Middle East spot market has increased with vessel owners eyeing growth in Pakistan and India for steel and rice cargoes, although this surge is expected to be brief and contingent on the Red Sea situation. In the Baltic region high rates remain due to a tight tonnage list, but a slowdown is anticipated soon. The US Gulf market remains steady overall, with larger vessels experiencing some softness, while the European market remains robust, supported by strong grain exports ensuring firm rates for the short-term.
Maersk, a major Danish shipping company, has decided to halt all Red Sea journeys due to recent attacks on vessels originating from a region in Yemen controlled by the Iran-backed rebel group, the Houthis. The Houthis, who have expressed support for Hamas, claim to be targeting ships heading to Israel, and have caused some alarming incidents. German transport company Hapag-Lloyd has also followed suit, suspending operations after one of its ships was attacked. The Bab al-Mandab strait, where the attacks occurred, is a narrow and hazardous channel between Yemen and Djibouti/Eritrea. The Red Sea is a crucial route for oil and fuel shipments traveling to the Suez Canal. These decisions will affect global trade routes impacting supply chain links and potentially causing delays in product deliveries.
Minlaton Store Opening
Minlaton Store Opening – a quick shout out to those that attending our new store opening on the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia last week. There were over 150 people there to support the opening and it was great to see such a positive response. We look forward to being able to better service the lower Yorke Peninsula growers with stock on hand and delivery out on farm in quick time.
Good luck to those that are still harvesting, we hope you have a smooth run home. Thankyou for your support this year, it is much appreciated by the entire Crop Smart team. On behalf of everyone in the business we hope you and your family have a happy, safe and enjoyable Christmas. We look forward to being in touch again after the festive break to assist where we can.
For opening hours over the break please click here.