Urea is a popular solid nitrogen fertilizer because of its high nitrogen content (46%), with about 90% of output going into fertilizers. Most world output is in a solid form, either prills or granules, or crystalline for specialised small-volume uses. In some industrialized countries, a growing volume of liquid product is consume-d in the production of nitrogen solution fertilizers, and in liquid cattle feeds.
Another use of urea is as a fertilizer and feed supplement, as well as a starting material for the manufacture of plastics and drugs.
Urea uses are in the developing regions of the world and is widely traded on international markets due to its relatively cheap transport costs. While many markets prefer other nitrogen fertilizers for better agronomic properties, urea is the commodity reference product with an important influence on most other nitrogen fertilizer prices.
There are two main hubs in urea trade – the Black Sea and Persian Gulf. These flows will determine the global prices. The Black Sea normally supplies Europe and Latin America while the Persian Gulf supplies North America and Asia/Oceania. All other trade flows tend to be more regional but can be important when they affect the need for Black Sea or Persian Gulf material.