Calcium nitrate, also known as Norgessalpeter (Norwegian saltpeter), is a light gray granular solid that absorbs moisture from the air, and is commonly found as a tetrahydrate. It is an oxidizing agent, and is soluble in water and alcohol. Calcium nitrate is commercially obtained by treating limestone with weak nitric acid. It is also formed during the absorption of nitrogen oxide by milk of lime.
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Calcium nitrate has several applications such as fertilizers, wastewater treatment chemicals, concrete manufacturing, and explosives. Other applications include molten salts and regenerable cold packs. Fertilizers was the largest application segment driving the global calcium nitrate market. Calcium is an essential nutrient for development of plant tissues. An adequate supply and uptake ensures longer shelf life for all horticultural crops.
Calcium nitrate-based fertilizers are not lost to the atmosphere like ammonia or urea-based fertilizers. In addition, calcium nitrate-based fertilizers do not acidify the soil, do not contain heavy metals or chlorides and are not affected by temperature; hence, nutrients are available when conditions are unfavorable. In terms of volume, the fertilizers segment accounted for a share of over 50% of the calcium nitrate market in 2013. Demand for calcium nitrate is largely driven by high consumption of calcium nitrate fertilizers in emerging economies in Asia Pacific and Latin America to meet their respective food requirements.
The global calcium nitrate market has been segmented based on regions such as North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). Asia Pacific accounted for approximately 55% share of the market in terms of volume, in 2013. It was the largest market for calcium nitrate, followed by North America and Europe. Fertilizers witnessed the highest growth in Asia Pacific due to increasing demand for food crops from emerging economies such as China and India. North America and Europe are likely to witness moderate growth during the forecast period in terms of volume.
Steadily growing global demand for grain crops coupled with increasing demand for wastewater treatment in emerging economies is expected to boost demand for calcium nitrate. The use of nitrogenous fertilizers such as calcium nitrate in oilseeds and grains is growing due to an increase in demand for major grains and oilseeds such as wheat, soybeans, and corn.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), around 200,000 people are added to the world food demand every day. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that farmland productivity needs to rise by at least 15% by 2020 to maintain the per capita global food consumption at par with present level. This is expected to boost demand for conventional fertilizers including calcium nitrate-based fertilizers. However, calcium nitrate is hygroscopic in nature and is classified as hazard class 5.1 by regulatory regimes. This could hamper market growth.
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The calcium nitrate market is moderately concentrated; it is dominated by small and medium regional companies. Key players in the market include Agrium, Inc., Airedale Chemical, GFS Chemicals, Inc., Haifa Chemicals Ltd., Prathista Industries Limited, Rural Liquid Fertilisers (RLF), Shanxi Jiaocheng, Tianlong Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., Sterling Chemicals, Uralchem Holding PLC, Vardhaman Fertilizers and Seeds Pvt. Ltd., and Yara International ASA. Companies are focusing on expanding their manufacturing capacities and establishing new business units in the emerging markets in Asia Pacific to strengthen their customer base and seek new opportunities in the region.