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Phosphate price peaks and negotiations – Part 2: The 2008 peak and implications for the future

This is Part 2 of a study examining the 1975 and 2008 price hike in the phosphate markets. While Part 1 of the companion paper introduces the system model and discusses the 1975 price hike in the phosphate market, Part 2 of the companion paper covers the major 2008 price hike, discusses similarities between the 1975 and 2008 price hike events and provides an outlook on the predictability and likeliness of future price hikes in the phosphate industry.

After a period of relatively stable phosphate pricing in the 1980’s and 1990’s prices began to steadily increase as demand for phosphate fertilizers (PF) increased globally.

We identified a number of interacting factors such as policies to discourage PF exports from China, subsidies for PF imports in India and increasing prizes of phosphate rock (PR) and PF from Morocco ultimately leading to the 2008 price hike.

Unlike the 1975 price hike, oil prices and the US dollar evaluation did not play a major role in 2008. Similarities can be found in the still tight phosphate market in which a limited number of suppliers can enforce increased prices. There is a possibility for future price hikes to occur since PF and PR can still be considered as tight markets.

We discuss predictability, likeliness, and approaches to increase resilience for the demand side to counter possible future price hikes in the phosphate industry.

M. Mew, G. Steiner, N. Haneklaus, B. Geissler, Phosphate price peaks and negotiations – Part 2: The 2008 peak and implications for the future, Resources Policy 83 (2023) 103588.

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