If the consolidation trend continues, it’s likely there will be just a handful of owners, globally, in another 10 years, Wright predicts. “And only a few will be U.S.-based,” he says. “With growth in demand coming from both India and China in recent years, those countries now have a huge impact on world markets. China, in particular, is working toward self-sufficiency, in terms of fertilizer production, and building lots of new plants.”

As for U.S. self-sufficiency, the only nutrient that the U.S. doesn’t usually need to import is phosphates, Wright notes, and even that changed this past year. “U.S. producers were exporting more product last summer because they could make more money selling it elsewhere,” he says. “That’s an outcome of global fertilizer markets. Just because it’s made here doesn’t mean it will stay here.”

He notes that U.S. fertilizer producers also face more environmental constraints than producers in other countries and, in some cases, have much older production facilities. “It’s very likely we’ll lose some of the smaller producers in the coming years,” he says, “and with a huge new phosphate plant scheduled to open later this year in Saudi Arabia, North American producers may not continue to dominate that market as much as they have in the past.”

For U.S. distributors and dealers, having enough storage could be the key to being able to provide enough product to customers, Wright says. “We’ve seen very tight supplies of many fertilizer products this past year and I don’t think that’s going to change in the next year or two.”

Dealers and growers need to look at buying product farther out, when they can lock in the best prices, Wright says, adding, “That’s why our company is looking at adding fertilizer storage as the best way to ensure we have product when our customers need it.”