- By Andrew Sinclair
- Political Correspondent, BBC News, East
Fertilizer importers say they expect food prices to drop as commodity prices have fallen to unprecedented levels since the invasion of Ukraine.
As a result of the war, 70% of Europe’s ammonia capacity was reduced or closed.
The price of some fertilizer reached more than £1,000 last year, but has since fallen to around £450 a tonne.
John Fuller, chairman of Brineflow in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, said his business had “been on a roller coaster ride”.
The importer was the first to enter the port with three ships carrying a total of 12,000 tonnes of liquid fertilizer from Trinidad.
With the Russian market also closed, his industry had to look to other parts of the world such as the US, the Caribbean, Malaysia and Indonesia to import its products.
These markets were until recently considered uneconomical to obtain fertilizer.
Mr Fuller, Conservative leader of South Norfolk Council, said: “We need to have much bigger fleets, we need to invest in new berths at Sunderland and Great Yarmouth, but the industry has been dealt with.
“Fertilizer prices are on the way and that means cheaper food for everyone.”
Jamie Burroughs, a wheat farmer near Old Buckenham in Norfolk, said it was a “relief” that fertilizer prices were falling.
He said: “You see the fertilizer lorry arriving at the yard and you start doing the numbers on what it’s going to cost and it was terrifying.
“I’m spending £200 less per tonne on fertilizer than last year, so that’s a big improvement.”
But with farmers buying their fertilizers for this year’s early crop, consumers said it would take time for them to notice the drop in prices.
Fertilizer is energy-intensive, and before the war in Ukraine, prices were rising because of increased demand for gas.
The Confederation of Agricultural Industries, based in Peterborough, represents companies that supply farmers.
The group’s head of fertilizers, Joe Gilbertson, said: “Gas is still three times more than it used to be. [the Ukrainian war]Although the decrease in fertilizer prices is a welcome step, it is still high compared to 2021.
“I think the era of cheap energy is over and I don’t think we’re going to go back to the prices we’ve seen for a very long time.”
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