Recently, the price of glyphosate has continued to soar and it remains in short supply, having aroused lively discussions within the industry. The price of glyphosate technical rose from Yuan22,000 per ton in August 2020 to Yuan36,500 per ton currently, an increase of 66% over 10 months.
Most manufacturers in China use the glycine route to produce glyphosate. At present, the price of glycine has been rising, which is now roughly Yuan15,000 per ton, while the price of another raw material - yellow phosphorus is about Yuan17,800 per ton. According to feedback from manufacturers, the production cost of glyphosate is about Yuan30,000 per ton excluding by-products, which will be about Yuan27,000 per ton if by-products are counted.
Among the two IDA-based processes for glyphosate production, only Yang Chemical has adopted the diethanol amine method, while other IDA-based manufacturers have adopted the hydrogen cyanide method. However, Monsanto, a major manufacturer, produces 200,000-ton glyphosate based on the IDA hydrogen cyanide route, which is different from China's production of hydrogen cyanide via natural gas. Monsanto also uses the acrylonitrile by-product.
From the demand side, the main import countries of glyphosate are the United States, Brazil and Australia. At present, the purchasing season in Australia in the first half of the year has ended while the large number of purchases in the United States are coming to an end. Customers in South America make two types of purchases, technicals and formulations. Customers who purchase technicals basically complete their purchases in the first half of the year while customers who purchase formulations will still issue several rounds of purchase orders in the second half of the year.
Some customers in South America take a cautious wait-and-see attitude towards the current price of glyphosate, they are also thinking about turning to substitutes. However, in view of the overall price rise of herbicides, a calculation needs to be made carefully to check if it is worthy going for substitutes.
So far, there are no stocks held by factories and distributors. The supply and demand trend of glyphosate in the next few months mainly depends on purchases from customers in South America. If purchasing volume is stable until the end of the season and the subsequent purchases from Australia in September and the US next year will catch up, then the chance of the price of glyphosate coming down is rather small. If South American customers are slow in terms of purchasing, it is still uncertain if the glyphosate price will be challenged by the supply exceeding demand situation.