Approximately 80% of world potash is traded across borders

Every farmer needs it, but there are few producers of potash, one of the three essential components of fertilizer (the other two are nitrogen and phosphate). According to Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., production is concentrated in Canada and the former Soviet Union (FSU) countries of Russia and Belarus while some 160 countries are consumers. [PotashCorp, the world’s largest potash producer, is currently the target of a takeover bid: see the related “Tug of War over PotashCorp.”]

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations issued its world fertilizer outlook to 2012 in 2008, so its projections don’t take into account the unprecedented decline in demand during the global recession. But the FAO estimate of regional contributions to its forecast 2.4% annual growth rate in potash consumption provides a fair picture of where demand will be.

Data on potash from such sources as the International Fertilizer Association provides additional insight on global supply and demand. For instance, IFA statistics (through 2005) indicate that just four countries – China, the U.S., Brazil, and India – account for about two-thirds of potash imports.

Note, however, that gross trade statistics don’t always distinguish between potash shipped for fertilizer and potash for industrial uses.

Datamyne U.S. import database can be searched for 10-digit Harmonized System Tariff (HST) codes. To search the top 5 U.S. sources of potash, we used six-digit HST codes 310420, 283421, and 310430 for the forms commonly used for fertilizers. Datamyne trade data for first-half 2010 shows that Canada is far and away the primary source for U.S. potash imports.

Datamyne’s bill-of-lading database provides the kind of fine detail needed for commercial applications, including commodity descriptions, shippers and consignees. The data is also current, capturing transactions as recent as two weeks ago. To learn more about how Datamyne can help track trade and identify trading partners in potash, fertilizers, or other chemicals, contact us.

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