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1.1 Market definition and scope

Like all living things, plants have certain nutritional needs that must be met in order to ensure their proper development. Four distinct needs have been scientifically identified: potassium (K), nitrogen (N), oxygen (O) and phosphorus (P). While oxygen is naturally present in the air, it is often necessary to ensure the supply of the other three elements in order to guarantee regular and high agricultural yields.

Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are therefore the basis for the production of of chemical fertilizers which is generally referred to as "NPK fertilizer" [ The World ]. These fertilisers are also called mineral fertilisers. Another category of fertilizer exists, that of natural or organic fertilizers (produced from plant or animal matter).

The use of fertilizers thus responds to an action of soil fertilization . The objective is to increase agricultural yields to meet a global demand for food that is increasing year after year. The fertilizer market is thus a constantly growing market.

1.2 The European market has lost momentum in recent years

Global agriculture today faces contradictory challenges. On the one hand, the year-on-year growth of the world's population increases the pressure on farmers and agricultural businesses. On the other hand, the total area of arable land is declining as a result of industrialization and urbanization, with an estimated loss of *.*% of arable ...

1.3 A French market trend similar to that of the European market

The French market is analysed here in two stages: national production followed by France's foreign trade
Domestic production:  
The French production dynamic is similar to that of the European market. The national market has been losing momentum in recent years, logically reaching its lowest peak in ****. Over the observed period, the ...


2.1 Sustained and growing national demand for fertilizer

French demand for nitrogen products and fertilizers has been on the rise in recent years, with the exception of ****, whose annual consumption level reflects average harvests due to unfavourable weather conditions

Source: ****
As the area of arable land on the territory is not increasing (***), the increase in the number of kilos ...

2.2 Geographical concentration of fertilizer demand

Source: ****
The map above shows the proportion of utilised agricultural area (***), as a percentage of the land area, by colour intensity. A very clear geographical concentration of French agricultural land is highlighted here, with more than **% of agricultural land located in the North and West of the country
It is therefore ...

2.3 French demand for fertilizers follows a desire to smooth purchases

Changes in the profile of farmers:
French farmers are increasingly trying to establish an smoothed fertilizer consumption pattern . This smoothing behaviour allows them to have an average risk spread over a full year, which results in better annual visibility of production costs as well as better control of price risk management. ...

2.4 The evolution of the French agri-food market, closely linked to the demand for fertilizers

French demand for fertilisers (***). Fertilizer demand is indeed a growing function of these two markets

Source: ****
France is Europe's leading agricultural producer, and its production in **** will account for just over **% of European production in that same year. This figure explains the volumes of fertilizer consumption in France. Indeed, according to ...


3.1 Fertilizer production in decline

In this part, NAF code **.**Z entitled "Manufacture of nitrogen products and fertilisers" is considered. [***]
The drop in the French market for nitrogen and fertilizer manufacturing in recent years (***), combined with poor harvest years in **** and ****, has had a direct and negative impact on the sector's activity

Source: ****
The number of ...

3.2 The organisation of producers and distributors

French producers
L' Union des Industries de la Fertilisation [***] is an organisation with a twofold main objective: to ensure the satisfaction of agricultural needs in France while limiting the ecological impact of the activity. Indeed, UNIFA is part of the logic of environmental preservation, by promoting a reasoned soil fertilization and ...


4.1 Product typology

There are two main categories of fertilizers to be distinguished, chemical and natural fertilizers
Chemical fertilizers:
Produced from minerals that undergo a series of chemical transformations allowing an exact dosage of their composition, they are the heart of the fertilizer market today. They have certain advantages such as an almost immediate ...

4.2 Evolution of fertilizer prices

Fertilisers are a significant item of expenditure in agriculture. In France, it represents **% on average of farmers' supply costs and *% of their total costs. For the largest crops, these figures can be as high as **% and **% respectively [***].

Source: ****
Over the period ****-****, the producer price index was on the rise throughout ...

4.3 Some exogenous factors influence the price of chemical fertilizers

The fact that France's weight on the world market is very small compared to countries such as China, India or Brazil means that French supply and demand movements have no impact on the international market and prices. For example, according to Yara In the event of a shock in French demand, ...

4.4 The offer to individuals

Fertilizer consumption by private individuals represents a marginal share of the fertilizer market in France. Nevertheless, it is interesting to mention this small part of the market here, as the supply of fertilisers for private individuals has very different characteristics from the rest of the market
Distribution: the distribution and marketing ...


5.1 European regulations on the sale of chemical fertilizers

The regulations are particularly aimed at the use and sale of mineral fertilizers because of their chemical dimension. In March ****, the European Union adopted the text of the future European regulation on the placing of chemical fertilizers on the market. This new text will definitively come into force in spring ****, and ...


6.1 Segmentation

  • EuroChem Agro France
  • Nutrien
  • Yara
  • Terrial

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chargé d'études économiques, Xerfi

Hugo Schott

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Mathieu Luinaud

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PhD Industrial transformations

Robin Charbonnier

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Pierre Doussau

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Arnaud Walter

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