CropLife 100 Never Fails To Surprise

It’s mid-November and we’ve just finished putting together our annual CropLife 100 analysis. Now in its 28th year, this in-depth look at the state of the nation’s leading ag retailers always provides insights into marketplace trends, key industry issues and the general health of the agricultural economy.

For the 2011 CropLife 100, it will probably come as no surprise that the overall state of the top ag retailers is strong. Revenues hit an all-time high of almost $25 billion, with fertilizer being the fastest growing input category at more than $12 billion. With this sales boost, by the way, fertilizer now represents more than half of all CropLife 100 retailer input/service sales.

And the big keep getting bigger. The top six ag retailers now account for 64% of all CropLife 100 sales, up 1% from 2010, with the group’s total revenue topping more than $15 billion. Furthermore, the 2,304 outlets within this group represent 57% of all the facilities in the entire listing.

But, as always, there were a few instances where eyebrows are likely to be raised. For example, after nearly a decade of unbridled sales and market share growth, the seed category had this double-winning streak snapped. True, seed revenues increased, but not fast enough compared with the overall marketplace. Therefore, the seed category saw its market share slip 1% to 14%.

Then there was the race for the market share lead in the equipment sector. Since the CropLife 100 survey first tracking this race back in the mid-2000s, sprayers made by AGCO (Ag-Chem and Spra-Coupe) have led the industry, usually with a market share somewhere in the low to mid 80% range. But in the 2010 survey, AGCO’s lead had slipped to 72% — just a hair above its nearest competitor, John Deere. Conventional wisdom said the companies might be virtually tied once the final 2011 numbers were compiled.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, AGCO rebuilt its market share among CropLife 100 retailers back into the high 80% range. Meanwhile, John Deere’s market share now stands at 79%.

As for the rest of the surprises and data from the 2011 CropLife 100, visit www.croplife.com/top100 and see the December 2011 issue of CropLife magazine, which will debut at the Agricultural Retailers Association meeting at the end of this month.

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