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Fertilizer fuels jump in wholesale trade

The numbers within the fertilizer and inputs trade have been on the rise, which is no secret.  But Statistics Canada put some numbers to the issue, noting a staggering 62.5 percent increase in wholesale trade sales in July.


September 19, 2008
By canada.com/Regina Leader-Post

September 19, 2008

Wholesale trade sales in Saskatchewan rocketed upwards by 62.5 percent in July, Statistics Canada said Thursday.


Much of the rocket fuel was provided by international demand for agricultural supplies, including fertilizer.

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The increase was well above the modest 2.2 percent increase across Canada in the same 12-month period.


The percentage growth numbers were the highest in the nation by far.


"A lot of areas are doing quite well in Saskatchewan,'' said Marc Atkins, the survey manager with Statistics Canada who helped prepare the report.


But the biggest factor in Saskatchewan was in agriculture, particularly businesses involved in the fertilizer industry and other farm supply businesses, Atkins said.


An analysis provided by Statistics Canada said an increase in the "other products'' category of goods, which includes agricultural supplies, had been an important factor in pushing up the totals, not only in Saskatchewan but also nationally.


"Sales in this sector have increased significantly over the past year, mostly as a result of a higher global demand for agricultural supplies,'' the report said.


"Exports of fertilizers and fertilizer material rose by more than 30 per cent in July and have more than doubled over the past year."


That analysis also mentioned increases in the building materials sector as a factor in the increase in wholesale sales across the country.


Wholesale trade activity was also up significantly in the machinery and electronic equipment sectors, StatsCan said.


Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart said the wholesale numbers "are pretty phenomenal.''


There is "a huge demand'' for fertilizer on the world market, which is good news for a province that produces major quantities of potash and other fertilizers, Stewart said in a telephone interview.


Tough economic times in the U.S. have created problems for parts of Canada which depend heavily on exports to the U.S. to sustain their economies, Stewart said.


Saskatchewan is fortunate because a significant portion of its exports go to an international market that stretches well beyond North America, Stewart said.


"Our province has been undergoing a transformation into an economic heavyweight in a number of categories,'' Stewart commented in a news release issued Thursday.


"We are seeing Saskatchewan's economic muscle again having a larger and dramatic influence,'' he added.


A detailed look at the Statistics Canada numbers indicate that wholesale trade in Saskatchewan reached $1.9 billion in July. That was up from $1.2 billion in July of last year and up from the $1.7 billion amount recorded in June of this year.


Viterra, the Regina-based agri-business giant, is among the companies that has benefited from the increased sales in fertilizer and other agricultural products.


The company's third-quarter report, released last week, said increased volumes of business and higher prices for fertilizer, along with increases in both seed and crop production sales, had contributed to the company's increased profits.


The company third-quarter profits were $166.7 million, which was up 70 percent from the same period last year.