What in the World is Going On With Glyphosate Prices?

Retailers and suppliers continue to cut the price of glyphosate to help offload expensive inventory in preparation for the fall months. While the prices of both generic and PowerMax glyphosate products continue to vary widely, it’s a sizable decline from even the beginning of the year.(Lindsey Pound)

By TYNE MORGAN July 19, 2023

An explosion at a Dow Chemical plant in Louisiana isn’t expected to disrupt ag chemical supplies in the U.S., according to Rabo AgriFinance. That’s as the industry seems to be swimming in supplies of key inputs such as glyphosate, forcing suppliers and ag retailers to cut prices in an effort to get rid of unused supply. 

An explosion and fire broke out at a Dow Chemical plant in Plaquemine, Louisiana late Friday night. The site produces several different chemicals, including one used as a fumigant in agricultural products. There hasn’t been any information released about a possible cause, but reports indicate at least six explosions occurred Friday night at a Dow manufacturing site that covers 883 acres. The incident caused a large mushroom cloud of smoke.

The plant is one of Louisiana’s largest petrochemical complexes, and the disruption is sparking flashbacks to what happened in 2021 when Hurricane Ida’s direct hit on Bayer’s largest glyphosate plant pushed the manufacturing site offline for nearly two months. The one event sent severe supply shockwaves through the entire agriculture industry. 

Sam Taylor, Farm Inputs Analyst for Rabo AgriFinance, says the incident at the Dow Chemical location on Friday shouldn’t impact availability of ag inputs for farmers. 

“I’ve not been given that indication that it will. That’s the feedback that I’ve received,” says Taylor.  

Why was the hurricane’s impact such a heavy weight on the entire industry? As strict Covid-19 protocols in China continued to restrict production of active ingredients essential to make products like glyphosate, the hurricane compounded already strained supplies.

According to Reuters, Bayer saw herbicide sales jump 44% in 2022 after Hurricane Ida damaged rival producers and constrained Chinese suppliers failed to plug the gap. Farmers felt the impact in terms of pricing and supplies. In the fall of 2021, glyphosate prices were up as much as 300%, but finding the supply was an even bigger problem reported by farmers. As competitors have been able to return to the market this year, prices have been dropping. 

Ag Herbicides’ Supply Problem 

Taylor says herbicide prices aren’t falling because of demand issues, it’s a supply problem. A major reason is China. AI production coming back online was a huge boost for overall production as the country accounts for 60 to 70% of global production. With such a production monster now back online, Taylor says it’s also led to a significant drop in global benchmark pricing.

“I think that the global pricing, at the moment, is sub $4 a gallon in China. So, you’ve had that drop from about $16 to $17 a gallon in 2022. It’s now about 25% of what it was,” says Taylor. “That’s the main catalyst of it, and that’s why we’ve seen the kind of the cost curve and shift down as Chinese production is back online. They account for about two-thirds of global production.”

Retailers and suppliers continue to cut the price of glyphosate to help offload expensive inventory in preparation for the fall months. While the prices of both generic and PowerMAX glyphosate products continue to vary widely, it’s a sizable decline from even the beginning of the year.

Glyphosate Prices Tank 

In May, one major ag company started offering retailers a $5 per gallon rebate just to push more glyphosate inventory onto the farm level. This week, FBN started offering a pricing special on Willowood Glypho 5, a generic glyphosate product. FBN’s promotion is being advertised as “glyphosate stock up,” offering the product at $13.50 a gallon, if pre-purchased by July 31st. The special only applies to product that will be delivered September to October.

Taylor says while wholesale and retail prices vary, he expects wholesale glyphosate and chem prices to stay low throughout the remainder of the year, especially with the supply situation.

“I would also say that I don’t think the issue is going to resolve itself overnight. I think you’re going to see this rumbling through 2023,” says Taylor.

Taylor points out hints of growing input supplies started at the beginning of the year. Several publicly traded companies mentioned inventories in their earnings report saying it was an industry-wide issue. That created the situation today where input suppliers across the U.S. are sitting on inventory that was purchased at a much higher price than where wholesale and retail prices are today.

Bayer’s most recent earnings report in May signaled the company expects its 2023 financial results to come in at the lower end of the targeted range, not only because of inflation, but a slump in prices of glyphosate-based herbicides from last year’s highs. Bayer’s then CEO told investors the company was forced to reduce expectations of what it can command for glyphosate products.

The Industry is Upside Down

It’s an issue companies and retailers of all sizes are grappling with. AgriTalk’s Chip Flory spoke to the Eric Cowling who’s the CEO of Helena Agri-Enterprises, a large U.S. ag retailer that has more than 350 sales locations across the U.S. Cowling told Flory the supply issue is one that’s still impacting the entire industry.


“It’s one of those things you couldn’t predict. It’s really about supply and demand,” Cowling said on AgriTalk. “We’re probably putting together one of the highest input crops that we’ve ever seen, so that is an impact of the supply situation. We had to buy product to take care of customers for the last two years. Now, you heard the term ‘we’re upside down.’ I think the industry is upside down. If anybody could have predicted the decline over the last 12 months, I’d like to have that conversation to know exactly how they predicted that. I think there’s plenty of inventory. I don’t think there’s excessive inventory. And I believe we’re in a good spot to take care of customers for the next six to eight months, but I’m not sure I can say we’re in a spot to do it for 12 months.”

A Global Supply Chain 

Just as Taylor points out, the fluctuations in crop protection and input prices for farmers are ones driven by what’s happening on a global scale.

“I tell our teams that it’s become a global supply chain. So we’re reliant on supplies of things we need to produce products globally, some from China, some from other sources like India,” he says. “As their world changes, so does ours. I don’t think there’s any one blueprint today that we could follow to say this is what we do.”

He says the big input suppliers in the U.S. are dealing with the same issues, which then compounds the supply chain issues for retailers such as Helena.

“When their issues are compounded, it compounds our issues, because we’re looking for the same inert ingredients or things that have to be imported,” he says.

Cowling also told Flory he doesn’t think the industry is in the recovery process yet, something Helena thinks will continue to change the way ag retail does business with farmers in the future.

“We’re in a state of turmoil, so we don’t know what the real world looks like today, and I think the way we’ve procured product in the past, I don’t believe we’ll see those days again,” says Cowling. “We have to use more intelligence tools, the AI tools available, to be better predictors of what we’re going to sell.”

forwarded from https://www.agweb.com/news/crops/crop-production/what-world-going-glyphosate-prices

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