CropLife 100: A Serious Comeback

Going into 2010, most everyone in the ag retail marketplace had nothing but questions. Following two very, very turbulent years in 2008 and 2009, virtually no one was confident enough to predict where the industry might be headed at the start of the second decade of the 21st century. Indeed, at the 2009 CropLife State of the Industry roundtable discussion, held during the annual Agricultural Retailers Association meeting, most retailers on the panel said essentially the same thing when asked what 2010 might be like for sales: “I wish I knew.”

Now, one year later, we all know. Fortunately, the answer is a good one. In fact, based purely upon the numbers, 2010 was a great year for ag retailers, one of the best on record. According to CropLife 100 retailers, total market revenue hit an all-time high during 2010, topping out at just over $20.6 billion. Not only is this figure up significantly from 2009’s $18.9 billion (plus 9%), but it is 8% higher than the industry’s previous high-water mark of $19.1 billion, accomplished during 2008 before the fertilizer/ethanol/commodity price crash began to negatively impact ag retailer numbers.

To appreciate just how well the industry did in 2010, consider how the four market categories tracked in the CropLife 100 survey — fertilizer, crop protection, seed and custom application — performed. In most years, a few of these are up in revenues while others are down. On rare occasions such as in 2007 and 2008, all four recorded gains. In 2009, three of the four took revenue hits, with only the seed category showing any kind of market growth.

In this sense, 2010 was much more like 2007 and 2008. All four categories had sales gains, ranging from plus 3% for crop protection products to plus 18% for custom application services.

Of course, the big dog among the crop inputs/services categories is fertilizer. During 2009, fertilizer application work virtually halted during the fall season, which caused overall sales to plunge 3% to $9.2 billion. Obviously, retailers were hopeful that once fertilizer prices stabilized, grower-customers would once again begin applying crop nutrients to their crops and soils.

And they did. In 2010, according to the survey data, fertilizer sales grew a healthy 10% to 10.1 billion. This gain helped the category maintain its total crop inputs/services market share at 49%. If market conditions remain stable next year, expect fertilizer to represent half of all CropLife 100 member sales by the time we compile our 2011 CropLife 100 report.

For the second largest category, crop protection products, the news was more mixed in 2010. On the plus side, the category did see revenue increase $200 million to $6.6 billion. Unfortunately, this 3% increase didn’t keep pace with the other three market categories. Therefore, the market share for crop protection took another hit, down 2% to 32%. Put into historical context, this means that the crop protection category’s market share has fallen 16% since the beginning of the 21st century.

Seed Money

As has been the case for the past several years, crop protection’s loss has translated into seed’s gain. During 2009, the seed category was the only one to show market growth, with sales up 18% to $2.6 billion. This moved forward another 15% during 2010 according to the CropLife 100 retailers survey. For the year, seed revenues topped out at just shy of $3 billion. The seed category now holds a 15% market share among crop inputs/services, up 2% from 2009 and almost double from the start of the century.

In terms of total market gain, the custom application category was the big winner during 2010. In 2009, this category took a 9% revenue hit, dropping from $837 million in 2008 to $763 million. Going into the year, many ag retailers were worried that increased competition, in part from larger grower-customers, could keep overall growth from taking place.

Instead, custom application work did just fine. According to the survey data, custom application/precision ag service sales came in just short of $900 million, up 18% from 2009. This boost helped the category maintain its 4% market share.

A Real Treatment

If things returned to a state of normal for the major crop input/service categories tracked by the CropLife 100 survey in 2010, that wasn’t the case across the board. For several years, the survey has asked ag retailers to describe their revenues in nine sub-categories — adjuvants, biotech seed, crop protection, custom application, fertilizer, micronutrients, precision ag, seed treatment and traditional seed. For each of these items, the survey asks retailers to tell us if their sales for the year were up 1% to 5%, down 1% to 5% or flat.

Since CropLife® began tracking this information, biotech seed has always lead the other sub-categories in terms of positive sales growth. Normally, this segment has increased year-after-year revenues ranging from a low of 69% in 2009 to high of 84% in 2006.

But in 2010, however, the bloom fell off the biotech seed rose somewhat. For the year, only 68% of CropLife 100 retailers recorded a sales increase for this sub-category, which ranked third among the nine items tracked. Furthermore, 5% of respondents said their biotech seed sales in 2010 fell.

With biotech seed stumbling somewhat, seed treatments climbed to the head of the pack. For this sub-category, 77% of CropLife 100 retailers had sales increases during 2010, up 11% from 2009. Better still, only 2% saw revenue declines in this area of their business.

Among the other sub-categories, four more joined seed treatments and biotech seed in being up for more than half of CropLife 100 retailers in 2010. These were adjuvants, up for 70% of respondents; custom application, up for 56%; micronutrients, up for 55%; and precision ag, up for 51%.

Then there were the three sub-categories that didn’t weather the revenue storm too well during 2010. Performing the worst was traditional seed, which typically is up for less than one in five retailers in a given calendar year. In 2010, the sub-category did slightly better, with sales improvement recorded among 27% of respondents. However, another 26% wrote that their traditional seed sales were off 1% to 5% during the year.

Fertilizer also took some sales lumps in 2010. For this sub-category, 44% of respondents saw sales improvement of 1% to 5%, while an almost equal percentage (42%) had revenue declines ranging from 1% to 5%.

It was a similar story for crop protection. For this sub-category, 47% of ag retailers responding to the CropLife 100 survey recorded some kind of revenue gain. But 43% had sales declines. This was a far cry from the crop protection sub-category’s performance in 2009, when 64% of respondents had sales increases and only 24% were down.


CropLife magazine would like to thank all the CropLife 100 retailers for helping make this report possible. We appreciate your time spent filling out our annual survey form.

Leave a Reply

CropLife 100 Stories
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denver
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Acquire Illinois River Energy Ethanol Plant
May 1, 2014
CHS has signed an agreement with Sinav Ltd. to acquire 100% of the company's stock, which includes Illinois River Energy, a 133-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant at Rochelle, IL. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
Crop InputsNovozymes Sales Figures Up For 2014
January 20, 2015
Novozymes announces its sales growth in 2014 was in line with expectations as sales grew by 7% compared with 2013. Read More