For the Quarter Ending September 2023
The Ammonium Chloride market maintained a positive outlook throughout the third quarter of 2023. In July, the North American market remained relatively stable, attributed to the moderate performance of the downstream fertilizer sector. However, excessive drought conditions in the country dampened the buying enthusiasm within the downstream fertilizer sector. Low water levels in the Panama Canal caused reduced exports of Ammonium Chloride from the USA to other importing countries, resulting in an ample supply of Ammonium Chloride within the US market. In August, there was a modest resurgence in demand from the fertilizer industry as domestic consumers actively stocked up for the forthcoming planting season in September and October. Prices began to rise significantly in September due to firm demand, increased production rates, and tight availability of Ammonium Chloride. The increased costs of feedstock Ammonia, Hydrochloric Acid, and upstream Natural Gas prompted higher production rates, leading to an uptick in Ammonium Chloride prices. Hurricane Idalia disrupted production activities in the country, causing Kinder Morgan to shut down its Port Manatee, Port Sutton, and Tampaplex terminals that handle fertilizers, resulting in a shortage of supplies within the country. Further, several market participants noted a substantial increase in international demand for Ammonium Chloride during the last week of September 2023, primarily due to China's reduced fertilizer exports. Furthermore, data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated a 0.5% increase in the country's Producer Price Index in September, suggesting a rise in the consumption of goods.
Asian Ammonium Chloride market prevailed optimistic market trends for the third quarter ending in September 2023. This escalation in Ammonium Chloride price can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the increased price of essential feedstock, firm demand from international and domestic fertilizer markets, and supply chain constraints. The elevated cost of essential feedstock Ammonia and upstream Thermal Coal prompted higher production rates, consequently leading to an uptick in Ammonium Chloride price. Further, demand for Ammonium Chloride remained robust in the international market, particularly in India and Brazil. In China, there was a shortage of spot availability in the Ammonium Chloride market, as producers are focused on fulfilling supply contracts. Additionally, during this period, the supply of Ammonium Chloride in the Chinese market was lower than expected in some parts of the country as production activity of some plants, including the Mingshengda plant, declined. The confluence of these factors prompted a widened gap between demand and supply, supporting the current price hike. Furthermore, as per data released by the National Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the new order index was almost stable after increasing marginally from 50.2 in August 2023 to 50.5 in September 2023, along with a sharp increase in the Production Price Index of the country, thus indicating the consumption of goods. Henceforth, during September, the Ex-work price of Ammonium Chloride was assessed at USD 98/MT at Shanghai port.
The Ammonium Chloride market in the European region experienced an optimistic market trend throughout the third quarter ending in September 2023. This escalation in price can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the increased price of essential feedstock, firm demand for Ammonium Chloride and its derivatives from international and domestic fertilizer markets, and supply chain constraints. Certain disruptive events occurred in the European market during August 2023, which had a substantial impact on the fertilizer landscape. A fire in a fertilizer warehouse in Moscow and the subsequent damage to 60,000 tons of fertilizer at the Odesa port disrupted the supply chain for fertilizers, including Ammonium Chloride, within the European market. Furthermore, during September, there were problems with Norwegian offshore gas facilities that had just finished maintenance. This, along with less gas going to the US Gulf Coast, increased gas prices. Consequently, leading to Ammonium Chloride producers in Europe feel more pressure to buy gas from the USA instead of making it themselves. Compared to the USD, the weakened Euro has led to costly imports of essential feedstock Ammonia, Hydrochloric Acid, and upstream Natural Gas. The elevated cost of essential raw materials further prompted higher production rates, consequently leading to an uptick in Ammonium Chloride price.
For the Quarter Ending June 2023
Through the second quarter, the Ammonium Chloride prices in the North American market experienced persistent weakness. The decline in market strength was primarily driven by declining prices of feedstock Ammonia and upstream Natural Gas. As the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicated, the Natural Gas Index decreased by 2.6% in the month, the fourth consecutive in that index. Further, the prevailing trend was also influenced by the global economic slowdown and growing inflation. The buyers were reluctant to make bulk purchases amidst rising inflation and hiked interest rates which caused the traders to keep the prices on the lower side. Additionally, imports to other countries were impacted on the back of low water levels in the Mississippi River due to heat. This led to surplus availability of the material in the market. Overall, the market situation for Ammonium Chloride remained bearish during this quarter largely due to a lack of buying enthusiasm from the end-user fertilizer segment. However, as indicated by the Federal Reserve of Economic Data, the Consumer Price Index of the USA has shown a marginal rise from 302.91 in April 2023 to 303.29 in May 2023 and is expected to increase further.
During the second quarter of 2023, the APAC region witnessed a notable decrease in Ammonium Chloride prices. This decline was primarily influenced by declining prices of feedstock Ammonia and upstream Natural Gas. In June, the recorded price of Ammonium Chloride was USD 86/MT on an Ex-work basis. Further, during this quarter, the market experienced a decrease in bulk purchases as the buyers were cautious due to prevailing inflationary pressure. Consequently, traders were compelled to keep the prices on the lower side. Additionally, China's exports have been reducing for the last three months and have slumped by 12.4%. This led to surplus availability of the material in the market and created a condition of oversupplies. As indicated by the National Bureau of Statistics China, the Purchasing Manager Index is declining and has been recorded at 48.8 in May 2023 after a marginal decline of 0.8% from the previous month, along with a decrease in industrial growth rate from 5.6 in April 2023 to 3.5 in May 2023. Additionally, in India, due to below to normal rainfall on a YoY basis, Kharif sowing tumbled by 8.4% in the country, which further weakened the fertilizer market. This, coupled with depreciating demand from the end–user market and availability of the material, paved the way for the narrow demand-supply gap.
The ammonium Chloride market remained bearish in the North American region during the second quarter of 2023. The prices declined due to weak demand from the end-user fertilizer industry amidst growing inflation in the region and a global economic slowdown. However, the European Central Bank has hiked interest rates in the region in order to control inflation. Heavy rainfall and bad climate conditions in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom affected the farming activities in the region. Additionally, a blast in a major Ammonia pipeline that was used to transport Ammonia from Russia via Ukraine disrupted the supplies contributing to surplus availability of the material in Russia. Additionally, as indicated by Eurostat, the Producers Price Index of the region declined to 138.3 in May from 143.4 in March and is expected to decline further. The average decline was 3.6%. Overall, the market situation for Ammonium Chloride remained bearish during this quarter, with low buying enthusiasm from the end-user fertilizer segment amidst growing inflation in the region.
The first quarter saw a continued decline in the price of Ammonium Chloride in the US market as a result of the sharp drop in raw material costs, which also had a significant impact on the price of ammonium chloride in the US market. The statistics show that the price of feedstock natural gas decreased by about 15% throughout the last quarter, and this trend continued in the current quarter. The decrease in feedstock costs allowed manufacturers to offer discounts to entice offtakes from downstream niche consumers, which had an effect on pricing trends in significant importing nations like India and some European countries. The operating rate remained positive despite the fact that there was still a labor shortage in the US market.
The price trend for Ammonium Chloride pricing in the APAC region for the first quarter of 2023 was still dim due to a plentiful supply created by a lot of material entering India. The inventories were full, and the supplies were still enough to meet domestic demand. The Kharif season in India was supposed to see a significant increase in fertilizer use, but this didn't happen. The weak demand for Ammonium Chloride in the downstream fertilizer sector caused prices to end the quarter in the red. The Chinese market has suppressed trading fundamentals due to low product consumption and producers' refusal of offers. Logistics were also kept in good shape by the fact that freight rates continued to be on the low side and that there were enough containers available.
In Q1 2023, there were conflicting opinions on the pricing trend of European Ammonium Chloride prices since Natural Gas prices remained plummeted and production shifted to accommodate the volatility. Additionally, conflicting opinions on freight costs and the limited quantity of containers had left the supply chain in shambles. Given the abundance of spot cargoes accessible to dealers and end users, the gloomy emotion is the predominant attitude, albeit many players are still unwilling to disclose prices or price objectives. The first quarter's fluctuating demand was reflected in how the downstream fertilizer market reacted. Russia increased the import quotas for all nitrogen fertilizers in November, which helped to boost the domestic supply.