Potash inventories in North America stayed stubbornly high despite the efforts of Intrepid Potash to lower its own stocks of the nutrient, beating sales targets to get shot of more than it produced.
Potash inventories held by US and Canadian producers, which with Russian peers account for the great majority of world supplies, ended June at a little under 3.0m tonnes, down 92,207 tonnes month on month but still among their highest levels of the last four years.
Indeed, they were 42% above the five-year average, according to the data, from Canada-based PotashCorp, the world's top potash producer by capacity.
Sales beat production
The data came as Intrepid Potash - the top producer of US potash, but a small enterprise compared with the Canadian giants – revealed that it sold 180,000-190,000 short tons (198,000-209,000 tonnes) of the fertilizer in the April-to-June quarter, above the 125,000-175,000 short tons it had targeted.
"Sales results for the second quarter reflect our sales and marketing activities into diverse core markets, relatively stable agricultural sales volumes, and a solid industrial and feed market," the Denver-based group said.
The volumes also beat the 165,000-175,000 short tons that Intrepid produced, towards the bottom of the range of 165,000-185,000 short tons it had guided to, and implying a run-down in stocks.
Earlier, larger rival Mosaic revealed that it had been mining the nutrient faster than it had expected in the March-to-May period, when its production operations ran at 85% of capacity compared with a target of "70+%".
Nonetheless, Mosaic's sales outstripped production by some 100,000 tonnes.
Intrepid also revealed that its sales had been underpinned by a slight fall in prices, with the average price realised for potash during the quarter pegged at $460-470 per short ton, down from $477 per short ton in the January-to-March period.
Mosaic estimated its selling price during the March-to-May quarter at $455 per metric tonne, equivalent to about $413 per short ton.
Potash typically sells for more in the US than on foreign markets, where Mosaic sells the majority of its production.