Ag commodities down but will lead 2009 rebound

December 4, 2008

The ANZ Commodities Price Index fell 7.2% in November, contributing to a 21% fall in four months.

Prices for dairy products fell 12% and have almost halved from their record levels a year ago. Prices for pelts tumbled 41%, the biggest decline among products tracked in the index. Beef, wool, lumber and aluminium all fell more than 10%. Seafood prices dropped for the first time in 18 months, sliding 0.6%. Lamb rose 4.3% and kiwifruit gained 0.3%.

Producers were cushioned from the slide in commodity prices by the weakening New Zealand dollar and the ANZ New Zealand Dollar Commodity Price Index was down only 1.8% in the latest month.

“Although the currency softened further in the month, it failed to match the drop in value of the commodities that we monitor,” ANZ economist Steve Edwards said in a statement. “It is clear that a weaker currency is acting as a buffer to falling commodity prices.”

Prices in yesterday’s on-line auction by Fonterra continued to slide with an average price of $4203.50 ($US2223) a tonne, 14% lower than last month’s auction and a fall of 49% since July.

Fonterra commercial director of GlobalTrade Guy Roper said the economic crisis had resulted in a significant drop in the demand for dairy commodities and a continued decline in prices had been expected.

“There will continue to be downward pressure on prices, until either the supply of product declines, or buyers have confidence that the global economic situation will improve,” Roper said.

Fonterra has been criticised for its auction which some feel is leading the market down. The Bull Pen disucsses that here.

However, the news isn’t all bad. Stock & Land  expects agricultural commodities to rebound next year.

After the dust settles from the sell off across commodities triggered by the global financial crisis, agricultural commodities will benefit from a secure demand outlook and tight supplies to outperform metals and oil in 2009.
Regardless of the gloomy macroeconomic outlook people still need to eat; therefore agricultural commodities will be more resilient during the economic downturn.

“Demand for agricultural commodities tends to be less elastic, less responsive to economic factors, more responsive to population,” said Lawrence Eagles, a commodities analyst at J.P. Morgan.

 

That’s encouraging because the MAF Briefing to Incoming Ministers warns the outlook is uncertain:

 

Over the next 20 years, New Zealand’s food and fibre producing capability will become increasingly important. Globally, rising population and economic growth is expected to increase demand for agricultural and forestry products. At the same time land and resources, such as freshwater, available for food and fibre production worldwide is likely to decline.

Despite this favourable long-term outlook for New Zealand’s primary production sectors, our industries, environment and broader society face a complex set of challenges to reap future opportunities. These challenges are exacerbated by the current global financial crisis that continues to unfold with uncertain impacts and duration.

Added to that is the growing threat of drought.

The contrast between irrigated and dryland in North Otago increases by the day, showing how badly we need rain and most of the east coast of both islands is similarly desperate for rain.

 


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