Basic Truths About The Crop Protection Market

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).

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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.