CRU: Potassium Sulphate Markets see Major Price Divergence

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LONDON, November 17, 2017

In recent years, prices in key potassium sulphate markets have diverged on an unprecedented scale. Major additions of secondary capacity in China and Egypt, supply issues in Europe, and low potassium chloride prices have caused significant price variation between regional markets.

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In the forthcoming Potassium Sulphates & Potassium Nitrate Market Outlook, CRU explores the unique supply, demand and pricing dynamics of the speciality potash market. Potassium sulphate (SOP) is the second most commonly used form of potassium fertilizer after potassium chloride (MOP).

SOP commands a price premium to MOP primarily due to the absence of chloride, to which some crops, including fruit and nuts, are sensitive. As a result, SOP demand is comparatively price inelastic-consumers are reluctant to switch to lower priced MOP when then price of SOP increases.

Since 2012, prices of MOP have fallen over 50%, due to intensifying supply competition and low crop prices. However, SOP prices have strongly outperformed those of MOP over the same period.

Since 2015, SOP prices, and the premia over MOP, have become increasingly variable across key markets. The charts show that until 2014, SOP prices rarely diverged by more than USD100 /t between regional markets. From 2015, significant supply and demand developments have driven major disparities in regional prices.

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About CRU  

CRU offers unrivalled business intelligence on the global metals, mining and fertilizer industries through market analysis, price assessments, consultancy and events.

Since our foundation in 1969, we have consistently invested in primary research and robust methodologies, and developed expert teams in key locations worldwide, including in hard-to-reach markets such as China. CRU employs over 250 experts and has more than 10 offices around the world, in Europe, the Americas, China, Asia and Australia – our office in Beijing opened in 2004.

When facing critical business decisions, you can rely on this first-hand knowledge to give you a complete view on a commodity market. And you can engage with our experts directly, for the full picture and a personalised response.

CRU – big enough to deliver a high quality service, small enough to care about all of our customers.


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Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson

Sarah is a financial reporter, focusing on technology, national security, and policing. Before joining Daily Telescope she worked as a staff writer at Fast Company and spent two years as a foreign correspondent in Turkey. Her work has been published in Al Jazeera America, The Nation, Vice News, Motherboard, and many other outlets.
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