SOP Market - Essential to the world's food supply

Global fertilizer demand is expected to increase greatly in the years to come due to world population growth accompanied by decreasing arable land per capita, changes in diet and growth in alternative fuels which use crops as feedstock.

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It is expected that SOP will have a 5% annual growth in demand from 2012 to 2015. China, which is the largest consumer of SOP accounts for more than 45% of global demand. With a population of 1.3 billion, it is the world's largest producer of tobacco, fruits and vegetables – premium crops that are better suited to SOP. Over the past 20 years, the demand for SOP in China has experienced significant growth, growing from approximately 0.5 million tonnes per year in the early 1990s to 1.9 million tonnes in 2011.

The current share of the potash market for SOP is ~10% with a potential increase upto >28%. India is a large grower of tea and tobacco and presently consumes only 50,000 tpy. Brazil is the largest grower of citrus fruit and only consumes 32,000 tpy. Limited production and price premium has restricted demand; potential SOP market growth exists and includes places such as India and Brazil.

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SOP, which is also known as Potassium Sulphate (K2O4), is a premium quality nutrient for the growth of high-value crops. It has several important characteristics and has commanded a significant premium over MOP due to the following reasons:

  • chloride-free and highly concentrated
  • contains 50% potassium and 18% sulphur which are important plant nutrients
  • can be used in every application that MOP can be used and is preferred as it enhances yield and quality, extends shelf life of produce and improves taste
  • limited availability of SOP globally
  • high cost of production due to the scarcity of primary producers
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