A global shortage of nitrogen fertilizer has pushed prices upwards to record-highs, threatening to raise already-elevated food prices even higher.
According to Argus Media, nitrogen fertilizer prices have soared to the highest in nearly a decade, with prices already up 80% since the beginning of the year. Farmers apply the chemical ahead of the planting season to boost yields for a variety of crops, including corn, canola, and wheat; however, with the sharp upward trajectory in prices, some crop producers have decided to delay their nitrogen fertilizer purchases, which could result in a cascade of rush-buying come spring,
In that event, demand for the commodity would suddenly skyrocket, leaving some without the fertilizer altogether due to shortages. According the Guardian, which cited US Agricultural Retailers Association CEO Daren Coppock, there is currently still enough fertilizer supplies for an application before winter, but with prices accelerating fast, “there’s going to be a lot of people who wait and see.” And, in that event, “if everybody’s scrambling in the spring to get enough, somebody’s corn isn’t going to get covered,” which could ultimately lead to even higher bread and meat prices next year.
Global food prices hit the highest level in 10 years in October, marking an increase of more than 30% compared to the same period one year ago, according to data compiled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). If strong crop yields fail to materialize in 2022, food inflation will accelerate even further, which could lead to widespread famine across some parts of the world.
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