Phosphate is a naturally occurring element in the form of phosphorous found in many phosphate minerals. Most of the phosphate is used in fertilizer production hence increasing the demand for phosphate production. It is also used in animal feed, food industry and other industrial usage. The global phosphate market is expected to show spurring growth from developing countries of Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Latin America. The growth in these regions is primarily driven by increasing use of fertilizers in agriculture and rising demand for detergents, hence transforming these regions into fastest growing phosphate market. In developed countries usage of phosphates in detergents has fallen drastically owing to environmental concerns and rising prices of phosphate. Other substitutes like zeolites are used in detergents hence some phosphate manufacturers have consolidated their business operation in zeolite manufacturing, mostly observed in the U.S. and European nations.
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The most popular phosphate fertilizer Diammonium phosphate (DAP) is widely used due to its high nutrient content and ease in handling. Previously, developing countries like China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan use to import DAP from the U.S. but now they are setting their own processing plants leading to an outstripped demand and high price volatility in the developed nations.
The ever-increasing population, increasing demand for biodiesel and food production and changing food habits is boosting the demand of phosphate fertilizers which leads to greater crop production. The global phosphorus reserves are exhausting and judging by the current extraction rate it will exhaust in next 100 years. Initiatives for preventing this complete exhaustion of phosphate should be taken by major producers. Morocco has largest phosphate reserves in the world. It is forecasted that Morocco will produce 80-90% of global demand by 2030. Asia-Pacific region is the largest regional market for phosphate followed by Latin America, Europe and the U.S. Fertilizers is the largest end-use segment followed by detergents, food and animal feed.
Some of the major challenges faced by the industry are price volatility, stringent environmental laws and depleting phosphorous reserves. However, technological development and appropriate regulations can overcome these challenges. Some of the key participants in this industry include CJSC PhosAgro AG, ICL Group Ltd, Prayon Group, Rhodia Novecare, The Mosaic Company, Agrium Inc., Sichuan Chuanxi Xingda Chemical Co. Ltd. among others.
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