While you may not be familiar with the chemical name glyphosate, you’re probably familiar with what it does.
Glyphosate is a popular herbicide.
It kills weeds and certain types of grasses.
When shopping for products that use glyphosate, you may notice that the price is quite high.
Considering that it’s just a weed killer, you may wonder why the price is so expensive.
Why Is Glyphosate So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The price of glyphosate is around $60 a gallon.
Several factors impacting the supply of glyphosate, as well as government regulations, have increased the price of glyphosate over the years.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Busy Ports
One of the factors impacting the supply of glyphosate is busy ports.
The COVID-19 pandemic is largely to blame for the bottleneck that has occurred at ports around the world.
When the world locked down in an attempt to limit exposure to the virus, many people ended up doing their shopping online because they were unable to go to the stores where they normally shop.
This meant that a lot more people were shopping online than usual.
Online shopping allows you to buy products that exist outside of your own country.
Unfortunately, that has created a bottleneck in ports because all the products that people are buying from other countries have to come through the ports.
Ports were suddenly seeing tons of shipping containers filled with boxes.
At the same time, ports also had reduced workers since they were trying to limit the spread of COVID-19.
As a result, they weren’t able to process as many shipments as they might like at a time.
It created a bottleneck.
They were able to get some shipments through to customs, but the number of shipments that were still waiting kept climbing and climbing.
That bottleneck is still causing a lot of pain for certain suppliers.
It’s impacting the amount of glyphosate, for example.
Since the ports are busy trying to process as many shipments as possible, it means that only so much glyphosate is getting through at a time.
With demand high for it, there just isn’t enough supply to go around.
Glyphosate is expensive because busy ports are lowering the available supply in the market.
2. Shipping Container Shortage
Another big factor that has impacted the price of glyphosate is a shipping container shortage.
If busy ports weren’t bad enough, there’s also a problem with shipping containers.
Because of the increased online shopping during the pandemic, a lot of carriers found themselves without enough shipping containers to move all those products.
Since they were unable to carry them, it created long delays for certain products.
The primary method for moving large volumes of inventory is by sea.
Sea travel isn’t as far as air travel.
As a result, some packages and shipments had to wait several days, if not weeks, for the ship to return to pick them up.
With people ordering more shipments, another bottleneck formed.
Carriers were only able to pick up so much freight before their containers became full.
Meanwhile, the number of packages that needed delivery kept building and building.
Some companies have gotten their hands on more shipping containers which has helped alleviate the problem to a degree.
However, because there was a high demand for more shipping containers and a low supply, it meant those companies had to pay top dollar for them
They then offset those costs by charging companies more for their transporting services.
Those transporting companies then charged more for the products that they were selling to offset their costs.
The consumer ends up paying a high price for the final product since they’re essentially covering everyone’s costs.
This impacts glyphosate prices because it means there’s less supply available on the market.
There weren’t enough shipping containers available to move a large amount of glyphosate.
A bottleneck in delivery has formed which is impacting its price.
3. Labor Shortages
Another problem that’s been impacting the price of glyphosate is labor shortages.
Labor shortages have impacted the glyphosate supply two-fold.
One problem with labor shortages is in the factories.
China, in particular, had some severe lockdown procedures in an attempt to decrease the spread of Covid.
A lot of workers in those factories couldn’t go to work.
Since they were working with a reduced number of workers, factories could only produce so much glyphosate at a time.
That greatly impacted the supply of glyphosate since there just weren’t enough people in the factories producing it.
Another labor shortage that has impacted the supply of glyphosate is truck drivers.
For consumers to get their hands on glyphosate products, those products need to reach stores and suppliers in the first place.
That usually requires truck drivers to pick up a large inventory and bring them to their destinations.
Unfortunately, there’s also been a truck driver shortage.
Many drivers are pushing for better wages and benefits.
They work long hours and don’t always get the amount of pay that they deserve.
That’s especially true for drivers who have to pay their own gas fees.
Since there are fewer truck drivers on the road, fewer glyphosate products are getting delivered.
That impacts the supply.
Both these factors reduce the supply of glyphosate in the market.
With low supply and very high demand, the price of glyphosate skyrockets.
Another factor that’s impacting the price of glyphosate is frost.
An unexpected winter storm occurred in Texas which isn’t used to experiencing such frosty temperatures.
The frost impacted several aspects of Texas and its economy, including destroying certain agricultural materials that manufacturers use to make glyphosate.
Without their usual supply from Texas, manufacturers found themselves having to make glyphosate out of a smaller number of materials.
That resulted in them being unable to produce nearly as much glyphosate as they normally do.
Unfortunately, the frost occurring in Texas is likely due to climate change.
While most associate climate change with warming temperatures, in reality, it completely messes up the weather system as most people know it.
Colder winters in Texas may become the new norm.
That’s problematic for glyphosate producers because they rely on Texas’ warm weather for their materials.
If frosts continue to occur in Texas before they can harvest or collect what they need, it could continue to impact the production of glyphosate.
Glyphosate is expensive because of the cold winters in Texas impacting its supply.
5. Reduced Packaging Supplies
One of the problems that China was facing with its production of glyphosate was a lack of packaging supplies.
China and India are some of the biggest producers of glyphosate.
When they experience problems with production, the rest of the world is likely going to feel it.
To ship glyphosate, China needs a specific type of packaging material.
It ensures that glyphosate can arrive at its destination safely without causing anyone harm or degrading.
The problem is that, due to COVID, the factories responsible for producing that packaging material weren’t open.
Since they weren’t producing what the manufacturers needed, they had no way of shipping out their glyphosate.
They had to wait until those materials did arrive.
This impacted the supply of glyphosate because it meant the companies could only release so much into the market at a time.
Thanks to high numbers of online shopping, there was also a lot of demand for certain packaging materials.
This further put a strain on how much packaging materials Chinese manufacturers could get to package their glyphosate products.
Glyphosate is expensive because China was experiencing problems getting enough packaging materials.
6. Flooding In China
This wasn’t the only problem impacting China either.
China experienced massive flooding which forced some of its glyphosate factories to shut down.
It occurred in the Sichuan Province where China has a major glyphosate factory.
The flooding forced the factory to close until the water receded.
As with any flooding damage, it took time to get the factory back up and running.
That flood has made glyphosate expensive for several reasons.
The first is that it impacted the supply of glyphosate for a time.
Since one major factory was down, it meant there wasn’t a lot of glyphosate entering the market.
With high demand and lower supply, the price increased for the glyphosate that was available.
Secondly, the company had to spend a great deal of money to get back up and running.
Machines that got damaged during the flood had to get replaced.
Materials that became damaged had to get re-purchased.
If there was any structural damage to the building, then those needed expensive repairs, too.
Essentially, the company took on several expenses.
To make up for those costs and start generating profit again, the company had to raise prices on its glyphosate.
7. Hurricane Ida Disruptions
It wasn’t just flooding in China that caused the supply of glyphosate to decrease.
The United States also experienced problems with flooding and dangerous weather.
Hurricane Ida came through and shut down the country’s largest producer of glyphosate.
The hurricane was on track to pass through the area and cause damage in its wake.
As a precaution, the company temporarily shut the factory down, halting the production of glyphosate.
The problem with hurricanes is that they can last a while.
While the worst of them is when the hurricane is directly in your area, they stretch for miles.
Even a tropical storm on the very tip of its reach can cause a lot of damage to a building.
To keep everyone safe, the factory remained closed until the hurricane fully passed through the area.
This caused quite a delay in their schedule.
It meant that there wasn’t a high supply of glyphosate entering the U.S. market like there normally is.
Since the market had a reduced supply, the price of glyphosate raised.
Another factor is the damage to the building.
Since the hurricane passed through the area, the company had to spend money to fix what it had damaged.
Since it cost them money, they had to make back that money by charging higher prices on their products.
Finally, the hurricane also impacted transport.
Truck drivers and ships can’t deliver glyphosate when a hurricane is passing through the area.
It isn’t safe for them and there’s a good chance that the product is going to get destroyed.
Because no one can transport products during that time, it further delays how much supply is in the market.
People are planning to buy glyphosate outside of the hurricane’s path, but because the driver can’t get to them, the supply they have available is small.
This impacts the price of glyphosate in areas outside of the hurricane’s path, too.
Glyphosate is expensive because of the impact that hurricanes have on its production and transport.
8. Strict Regulations In China
Glyphosate is also expensive because of the recent regulations that China put in place for its factories.
To use less energy, China has ordered its factories to produce less.
By producing less, they don’t use as much energy.
Others have to switch to alternative energy sources to power their factories.
To do that, they need to spend money.
New energy regulations aren’t the only thing increasing the price of glyphosate either.
China has also implemented certain environmental regulations.
They audited different factories to ensure they were complying with those regulations.
Not every factory passed and had to shut down as a result.
This means that there are fewer glyphosate factories than there were before in China.
Until more factories open, the supply of glyphosate coming out of China is going to be less than what it was.
China isn’t the only one regulating factories either.
India, the other major producer of glyphosate, has also implemented environmental regulations.
That has also impacted its factories and forced some to close.
With fewer factories producing glyphosate, it means there’s less supply of it.
Glyphosate is expensive because of how certain regulations in China and India have impacted its market supply.
9. High Demand
Supply issues only make products more expensive when demand exceeds it.
In the case of glyphosate, demand is often exceeding supply, especially in recent times.
Glyphosate is particularly useful for farmers.
They use large amounts of it to kill weeds.
Weeds are a problem for farmers because they compete with their crops for water and sun.
Weeds essentially weaken their crops or kill them entirely.
Glyphosate is an herbicide frequently used in products like Roundup.
Besides farmers, homeowners also use it to get rid of pesky weeds on their lawns.
City officials also use it to keep invasive species from growing in local parks.
Because there are so many different markets for the product, there’s a lot of demand.
With a low supply available, the price of glyphosate becomes extremely expensive.
10. Few Domestic Manufacturers
A final reason glyphosate is expensive is that the United States doesn’t have many domestic manufacturers of it.
While they do have a few factories, the country largely imports them from China and India.
This makes glyphosate expensive for a few reasons.
The first is that the government has also placed tariffs on certain Chinese products.
It becomes more expensive to buy glyphosate from China.
When China is also having problems with its supply, the price becomes even more expensive.
Secondly, suppliers and buyers have to buy glyphosate which comes with import fees.
Even without a tariff, import fees can make a product more expensive.
Until the United States has more glyphosate producers locally, the price will likely remain high.
Glyphosate is expensive because the bulk of it for sale is produced in other countries.
Glyphosate is a useful herbicide that farmers need to keep their crops healthy.
Several different factors impacting the supply of glyphosate, however, have increased its price and made it exceptionally expensive.