Yara - A Dark Norse
Date: 18.11.2021 Author: Fredrik Hekkelstrand
Modern farming has evolved throughout the years, and a key agricultural innovation historically alongside the adoption of machines has been the fertilizer. Yara’s fertilizer products are made to optimize the crop yield, reduce environmental impact, and improve both crop quality and optimize the nutritional value. Their products are used in over 60 different countries.
Fertilizer is a critical component in agricultural productivity and food production. In general, the fertilizer market is said to be a “supply driven” market when the demand is low, where the price floor is set by the producing region with the highest natural gas prices.
The population growth in the world is estimated to be 83 million annually, which is one of the main drivers of fertilizer consumption growth in addition to economic growth especially in developing countries.
With the recent gas crisis in Europe, Yara had to close 40% - almost two tonnes - of its ammonia production capacity in September in Europe to limit their losses. According to Yara, natural gas constitutes about 90% of ammonia cash production costs, which explains the recent ammonia curtailments in Europe.
The gas crisis has led to a reduction in nitrogen production and thus also the global prices of nitrogen have risen. Natural gas is the major nitrogen cost driver.
A key advantage for Yara is that even though they produce less ammonia in Europe, they can outsource ammonia from their other Yara plants outside of Europe, in addition to global trade. The production of ammonia outside of Europe, where raw material prices are cheaper, means that the margin for the sale of the highly demanded nitrogen can be greater. Yara has seen a decrease in deliveries in Europe, but the comparatively higher prices may counteract the lower volumes.
Yara International ASA
- Yara International operates in around 60 countries.
- Initially a part of Norsk Hydro, it was de-merged in 2004.
- One of the largest fertilizer producers in the world.
- Fertilizer plays a vital role in the crop quality.
- Major stakeholders include the Norwegian State, which owns about a third of the shares.
Despite the gas crisis that has led to reduction in ammonia production, Yara has shown great flexibility to replace unprofitable production with outsourcing and global trade. Higher prices in Europe counteracted the decline in deliveries, while the figures show higher margins in the United States and both better productivity and higher prices in Asia & Africa.
Yara looks to be in a good position going forward with surging fertilizer prices and a strong demand globally for nitrogen.
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