Amid all the other ups and downs of the ag retail marketplace in 2016, the crop protection products sector has remained relatively calm. True, there have been plenty of tumultuous times for crop protection product suppliers during the year, but sales for the sector haven’t moved that much.
According to the 2016 CropLife 100 survey, sales for the crop protection products category came in just a hair under the $10 billion mark, off less than 1% from the 2015 total. Despite dropping slightly for the year, the category still managed to regain some lost market share, now up to 34%.
And in reality, there’s no mystery as to why the crop protection products category continues to shine for ag retailers. It all ties back to the growth of herbicide-resistant weeds.
According to experts, herbicide-resistant weeds now infest more than 100 million farm acres in the U.S., virtually double the amount they were present in less than a decade ago. In fact, according to the 2016 CropLife 100 survey, 76% of respondents say herbicide-resistant weeds are a major problem in many or some of the fields they service. This is up 3% from the 2015 survey results.
With this being the case, the herbicide sector of crop protection is largely driving overall category sales. In 2016, for example, 71% of CropLife 100 ag retailers said their herbicide sales increased between 1% and more than 5% for the year. This was a full 8% higher than the 2015 survey figure of 63%. Furthermore, only 15% of respondents said their herbicide sales were down for 2016. During the 2015 survey, this figure stood at 27%.
Fewer Insect, Disease Pressures
In contrast to herbicides, the other two sectors of the crop protection products category — insecticides and fungicides — didn’t perform nearly as well in 2016. During 2015, both of these segments benefitted from an unusually wet and cool spring season, which caused pest and disease pressures to show up in crop fields much earlier than normal.
For much of 2016, however, the weather across most of the nation was closer to normal. This apparently kept the demand for insecticides and fungicides from showing significant gains. According to 2016 CropLife 100 survey respondents, only 42% saw their fungicide sales for the year increase from 1% to more than 5%. This was down significantly from 2015, when 54% of respondents had fungicide sales increases in these ranges. Instead most respondents, 44%, saw their fungicide sales decline 1% to more than 5% during 2016.
It was a similar tale for insecticides. According to 2016 CropLife 100 respondents, 40% had insecticide sales increases for the year, down 9% from the 2015 figure. Instead, 38% saw their insecticide sales decline 1% to more than 5% for 2016. The year before, this figure was only 30%.