How to Invest in Phosphate (Updated 2023)
Wondering about ways to invest in phosphate, including phosphate stocks? Here’s a brief overview of supply and demand dynamics, plus how to enter the market.
Discovering ways to invest in phosphate begins with understanding its primary uses. For example, 90 percent of phosphate is primarily used in the agriculture sector.
Because of its essential properties, and since there is no known substitute for it, phosphate can be found in fertilizer products all over the world as a way to aid plant growth. It is also used as a supplement in animal feed, as a food preservative and for several other chemical purposes.
As the world's population grows and demand for food increases, the need for phosphate fertilizer is only expected to increase. For that reason, some believe phosphate investing is compelling. Read on for a brief overview of the phosphate market, including supply and demand dynamics and investing options.
What factors impact phosphate supply and demand?
The US Geological Survey's latest report on the phosphate industry shows that global phosphate rock production came in at 220 million metric tons (MT) in 2022, down slightly from 226 million MT in 2021.
China was the top phosphate rock producer last year by a long shot, putting out 85 million MT. Morocco is in second place with production of 40 million MT. The US produced 21 million MT of phosphate rock in 2022 from mines operating in Florida, North Carolina, Idaho and Utah.
Phosphate-mining projects are present in a large number of other countries as well, including Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam, Peru, Tunisia, Brazil and Israel.
When it comes to phosphate resources, the largest phosphate deposits are found in Morocco, which is home to about 70 percent of global reserves.
In terms of demand, the need for phosphate has been slowly increasing over the last few years. It stood at 40.6 million MT in 2012, and is expected to reach 49 million MT by 2024.
As mentioned, the world's growing population and need for crop nutrients should keep demand growing steadily well into the future as well.
The International Fertilizer Association estimates that 85 percent of the world’s soils are deficient in nitrogen, while 73 percent are deficient in phosphorus (phosphates) and 55 percent are deficient in potassium (potash).
It is clear the phosphate industry will need to look into mining expansion opportunities and increase exploration activities to meet the growing demand and future growth forecasted for the sector.
How to start investing in phosphate?
With the future of phosphate looking bright, some investors are wondering how to get into the space. There are certainly ways to do so, although phosphate investing is a little trickier than investing in more mainstream commodities like gold and silver.
One way investors can invest in phosphate is by buying shares of an exchange-traded fund that includes exposure to phosphate. The VanEck Agribusiness ETF (ARCA:MOO) is one example. However, most market participants choose to invest directly in phosphate-focused companies. Here are three of the largest producers:
For more information on phosphate companies that have been working to advance their projects, including smaller firms with development-stage projects, check out Phosphate Stocks to Watch and Top 5 ASX Agricultural Stocks.
This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2013.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.