Basic Truths About The Crop Protection Market

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History is littered with failed predictions. Some analysts predicted home computers and cell phones would never catch on with the masses. And by a conservative count, the world was supposed to have ended at least 50 times since the mid-1880s (not counting numerous “end of the world” scenarios supplied by Hollywood and fiction writers over the decades).

In agriculture, there have been a few failed predictions as well. Back in the early 2000s, most everyone was predicting the end of the ag retail supply chain as Internet-ordering and cyberdealering became the norm. But it never quite panned out that way.

Also, during the early 2000s, many crop protection market watchers were predicting that post-patent products and manufacturers would eventually overtake their basic counterparts in market share and sales. Yet, here to, the predictions were premature.

Although the official numbers aren’t in just yet (and probably won’t be ready until our magazine compiles its CropLife 100 report later this year), early indications are that basic manufacturers are enjoying a banner sales year in 2011. Based upon preliminary data from ag retailers, their grower-customers seem to prefer brand name crop protection products vs. post-patent ones. The only exception to this rule seems to be glyphosate, where price seems to be king. Still, post-patent products represent approximately 25% of the total crop protection marketplace – virtually the same share they held in the mid-2000s.

And for those that follow the industry, this should come as no surprise. Although they’ve been pushed on price points, basic manufacturers have spent the past few seasons improving their service capabilities and working with customers to make their products part of a total value-added package. Consequently, customers have given their loyalty (and sales orders) to these tried-and-true suppliers.

Of course, this battle for market share is far from over. However, it is nice to see the basic manufacturers protecting their turf by improving their service ability. This is a lesson any supplier can learn from, regardless of the industry.

Sfiligoj is the Editor for both CropLife and CropLife IRON magazines. He travels regularly to cover industry events and has been dedicated to the ag retail industry since he joined the staff in 2000.

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One comment on “Basic Truths About The Crop Protection Market

  1. John Hester

    Eric, There will always be a % of basics, distributors and ag media,(not you folks), who do not believe that relationships count because they, personally don't believe in them, but rather in the transactional view. Trusted advisors providing world class service will still be an important part of agriculture 50 years from now.