7 Revenue Trends Impacting Ag Retail’s Top 100

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People love lists. From David Letterman to Schindler, we have long used them for urgent matters of comedy and beyond. Yet some of my colleagues needle me about my penchant for writing this way. My rebuttal? Lists are just how I combat my own amnesia and the chaos of the Information Age. It’s also often considered the laziest form of writing, which is perfect for me.

Love them or hate them, informational posts presented in list format are easily digestible, and allow for an efficient transfer of knowledge to the reader. That at least partially explains why “20 Best Mobile Apps For Agriculture,” written by yours truly, and “CropLife 100” were the top two most-viewed pages on CropLife.com in 2011.

Speaking of the CropLife 100 list, this annual ranking of the top 100 largest ag retailers is now a fully sortable database at CropLife.com/top100. Users can select various revenue ranges and crop inputs to filter the sales data to their liking. You can also check out top 100 rankings dating back to 2007 to quickly formulate some trends impacting these large operations over the past five years. Here are seven interesting revenue trends I recently found by manipulating the data. I offer them in list format, of course.

  1. Fertilizer sales revenue on the rise. More than 70% of the CropLife 100 companies reported at least half of their overall revenue was from fertilizer sales, up about 5% from 2007. Taking it a step further, nearly 20 top 100 retailers said that 70% or more of their revenue was from this crop input.
  2. Crop protection revenue on the decline. In 2007, 16 members of the top 100 had at least 50% of its revenue from crop protection products. In 2011, only 11 ag retailers on the CropLife 100 had more than half of its revenue from this input. Just two companies — T H Agri-Chemicals (No. 88) and Asmus Farm Supply, Inc. (No. 71) — reported more than 90% of sales revenues from crop protection products.
  3. Seed revenue increasing steadily. Led by East Kansas Chemical Co. (No. 70), Wellsville, KS, with 44% of its revenue from seed, more ag retailers (85%) generated revenue from seed in 2011. This is up slightly from 2007, when 83% indicated they had at least some revenue from this crop input.
  4. Overall revenue trending upward. In 2007, only 16 companies reported revenue of $100 million or greater. In 2011, that number has nearly doubled with 31 retailers at $100 million in revenue. The “more than $1 billion” sales revenue club also added a new member this year. CHS (No. 6) joins Agrium U.S. Retail (No. 1), Helena Chemical Co. (No. 2), GROWMARK, Inc. (No. 3), Wilbur-Ellis Co. (No. 4), and J.R. Simplot (No. 5) to form the Big 6 of the CropLife 100.
  5. Services more prominent among smaller ag retailers. Of the top 10 companies that have the highest revenue percentage from services (e.g., custom application) in 2011, none of them were ranked inside the top 20 overall. Delta Growers Association (No. 67) topped this list with 42% of its sales revenues generated through services.
  6. Fewer smaller players in ag retail’s top 100. In 2007, 34 companies landed in our CropLife 100 survey’s lowest revenue range — less than $25 million. In 2011, that number dropped to 15 companies, with ongoing industry consolidation being a prime contributor to this trend.
  7. Revenue lacking balance. In 2011, only a handful of companies in the top 100 had nearly a 50/50 revenue split between the two major crop inputs — fertilizer and crop protection. Companies doing their best not to put all their revenue eggs in one basket include: Big Valley Ag (No. 81), Buttonwillow Warehouse Co. (No. 22), Fertizona (No. 39), Foster-Gardner, Inc. (No.100), Helena Chemical Co. (No. 2), Jimmy Sanders, Inc. (No. 8), Lyman Group, Inc. (No. 59), Mid Valley Ag Service, Inc. (No. 31), Watonwan Farm Service (No. 41), and Wilbur-Ellis (No. 4).

To view more trends and check out the latest rankings of the top 100 ag retailers, visit www.croplife.com/top100.

Hopkins is Senior Online Editor for the CropLife Media Group at Meister Media Worldwide.

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