Nourishing the World: Canadian Potash Supply Chain Resilience in Uncertain Times
Global events of the last year have shone a spotlight on the importance of Canadian potash to global food security.
Between a global pandemic, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and once-in-a-lifetime weather events occurring more frequently, the past few years have been particularly challenging for supply chains around the world. And the disruptions have shone a spotlight on how critical Canada is to global food security.
With a growing world population, demand for food is increasing. To meet that need, farmers will need to use more fertilizers like potash. Potash is the common name given to the fertilizer potassium, a vital nutrient for life. Most of the world’s potash is used as fertilizer that helps plant growth, increases resistance to drought and disease, and improves overall crop quality and yield. By using potash, a farmer can produce more food of better quality on the same amount of land.
Constraints, like sanctions on Belarus and restrictions on Russian potash— together, these two countries account for approximately 40 per cent of the global supply of potash – highlighted how vital Canadian potash is to global food security. Canadian potash is known for being a high-quality, stable and reliable supply – which positioned Canada well when global food security concerns increased.
For over 50 years, most Canadian potash has been exported overseas by Saskatoon-based, Canpotex. On behalf of its two shareholders, Mosaic and Nutrien, Canpotex reliably markets and delivers about 13 million metric tonnes of potash overseas each year to millions of fields and farmers in 40 countries, principally in Asia, Latin America and Oceania.
Now, more than ever, customers overseas have counted on Canpotex to deliver the potash they need in time for food production. The ability to deliver during times of uncertainty is possible because of the investments, expertise, and relationships established over the past 50 years.
This is no easy feat. At the best of times, shipping millions of tonnes of potash from Saskatchewan to customers halfway around the world means a journey that crosses Canada, through mountains, and across three oceans. Add in weather events or supply chain challenges that occur with more frequency.
For Canpotex, it’s possible because of billions invested to protect its own reliability by building a world-class supply chain. It’s also possible because of supply chain partners, including railroads, terminal operators, ports, and vessel owners.
As a geographically-disperse resource economy, Canada’s ability to contribute to global food security is highly dependent on the efficiency of its transportation and logistics systems.
That means there is more work to do, ensuring our supply chain and physical infrastructure are reliable and resilient. Strengthening transportation networks is imperative for the success of Canada’s economy. Without serious supply chain improvements and investment, as a country we risk falling short of our standard as a reliable trading partner.
Exporters, like Canpotex, have established and protected Canada’s reputation overseas for reliability, stability and integrity. Canadian agriculture and natural resource products – our food and our fertilizer – are recognized globally for quality, and our businesses are viewed as reliable and trustworthy and fair to deal with. With this comes immense responsibility to get our goods to market and make good on our commitments to our customers and our trading partners. Canada’s reliability is so vital because our supply chains just aren’t moving potash or other goods – it’s an integral part of making global food security possible.