Early Returns From The CropLife 100

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Here at CropLife® magazine, this is a special time of the year. We are gearing up for our big end-of-the-year specials such as the State of the Industry insert and the annual CropLife 100 report.

Speaking of the CropLife 100, it turns 29 in 2012 and as always, most of the data coming in from the top ag retailers is breaking along anticipated lines. Then again, there are usually a few surprises hidden within these facts and figures — and the 2012 survey is no exception.

So, in what is becoming another tradition, we present an early sneak peek at some of the more interesting bits of information being gathered from the 80 or so 2012 survey forms already in.

1. Seed remains a slow grower. During the 2011 CropLife 100 report, we noted that the seed sector, which had been steadily gaining market share for more than a decade, suddenly slowed down in its overall growth rate and actually lost overall market share. Like many of you, we wondered in print if this downturn would turn out to be merely a momentary blip on the CropLife 100 line graph or the start of a new, slower growing era for seed.

Well, based upon the early 2012 returns, seed is entering a new phase. On the plus side, the sector continues to grow, and will likely increase from $3.4 billion in sales in 2011 to just shy of $3.6 billion this year. However, this rate of growth has once again been outpaced by the other three crop input/service sectors — fertilizer, crop protection and custom application — so the seed sector will see its market share drop once again, down to 13%.

But there is hope that this down market share trend will end in 2012. As you will find in this month’s issue, new seed traits are getting ready to hit the market, and this should go a long way in renewing sales interest in this sector in 2013 and beyond.

2. Drought impact minor, however … By far one of the biggest stories of 2012 was the nationwide drought and its impact on crops. Despite this, the majority of CropLife 100 retailers wrote that the drought’s impact on their businesses was “minimal, at best.”

But there was one important exception to this rule — fungicides took a sales hit. In 2011, 81% of CropLife 100 retailers said their fungicides sales had increased significantly. But in 2012, only 54% made this claim. Another 36% said their fungicide sales had dropped anywhere from 1% to 10%.

3. Consolidation slows, but only within the CropLife 100. Given how strong 2012 was in terms of sales, conventional wisdom would be that dealerships were at their peak values and consolidations would be numerous. And this kind of happened — just not within the CropLife 100. In 2012, only two ag retailers disappeared from the CropLife 100 via acquisition — Hamilton Farm Bureau and Ritter Crop Service. There were, however, plenty of CropLife 100 retailers buying non-CropLife 100 ones.

So there you have it — some of the early returns from this year’s CropLife 100. Look for the complete report in the December 2012 issue.

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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