Global nitrogen fertiliser demand and supply: trend, current level and outlook

Patrick Heffer1 and Michel Prud’homme1

1 International Fertilizer Association (IFA), Paris 75116, France,,


In the perspective of a world reaching more than 9 billion people by 2050, and the need to alleviate persistent hunger, which still affects more than 800 million people, nutrient management shall ensure continuous increase of agricultural production. The latest projections by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) show that feeding that many people would require raising overall food production by some 60% between 2005/07 and 2050 (FAO, 2012) in the absence of changes to current biofuel mandates. This shall be done while mitigating environmental impacts of farming in general, and improving plant nutrient management in particular. Agricultural intensification using fertilizer best management practices is a desirable and necessary goal. The alternative –agricultural extensification– means increased conversion of natural habitats to farmland, biodiversity loss, and a significant increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The need to improve food security strongly influenced world fertilizer demand over the past decades. Future demand is likely to be driven by a broader set of considerations, including the need to reduce environmental impacts from nutrient losses. The paper analyzes global nitrogen (N) fertilizer demand and supply trends and outlook under this changing operating environment.