Report: Another Good Year For The Top 100 Ag Retailers

Call it a bit of delayed reaction. Overall, the numbers weren’t terrible for ag retailers in 2013. But things were certainly slower than they’ve been for the past few years.

Going back to the 2012 CropLife 100 survey, many respondents said that back-to-back uneven weather seasons for agriculture hadn’t really impacted their overall bottom lines very much. Crop input and service sales remained brisk, with the entire marketplace seeing double-digit revenue gains despite lingering droughts and rain deluges.

However, another very wet spring during 2013 apparently did put a damper on the marketplace. According to 2013 CropLife 100 retailers, their overall revenue topped $29 billion for the year — another in a string of all-time sales highs going back to 2010. Despite this fact, the modest 4% increase in overall sales vs. 2012 was a far cry from the 15% and 17% jumps the nation’s top ag retailers recorded the prior two years.

And if you want to find the reason for this marketplace slowdown, look no further than the performance of the industry’s top crop input category, fertilizer. Since its overall downturn in 2008, the fertilizer category has been on a steady growth curve within the CropLife 100. A few years ago, this category surpassed crop protection to become the largest revenue generator for most ag retailers and its overall market share has climbed above 50%. In 2012, the fertilizer category hit an all-time revenue high of $15.2 billion — equal to 55% of all crop inputs/service sales — and seemed headed towards a 60% mark in 2013.

But this didn’t happen. Because of the dry fall in 2012 and wet spring in 2013, several ag retailers indicated on their CropLife 100 surveys that application work for fertilizer was severely limited compared with those in the previous years. As a result, fertilizer category sales in 2013 edged up only 0.7% to $15.3 billion. Since this rate of growth was far below the overall marketplace, the fertilizer category saw its market share dip 2% to 53%.

With the market’s lead crop input dog slowing down some in 2013, the next two categories — crop protection and seed — both regained some lost ground. For second place crop protection, 2013 turned out to be a very good year indeed, perhaps helped in part by the need for more crop protection product usage in the wet field conditions that existed throughout much of the nation during the spring and early summer. Overall, according to CropLife 100 ag retailers, sales in the crop protection products category surged ahead 8% during 2013, climbing from $7.9 billion in 2012 to $8.5 billion. More significantly, this revenue bump improved the category’s overall market share from 28% in 2012 to 29% in 2013. This marked the first market share increase the crop protection products category has experienced since the beginning of the 2000s.

Definitely Seed Money

If there was a category that performed in a completely opposite way from fertilizer, it was seed. At the start of the 2000s, the seed category was on the fast track when it came to market growth. Annually, the category gained sales and market share compared with the rest of the crop input/service categories.

Until 2011, that is. Beginning in that year, the seed category revenue among CropLife 100 retailers slowed down significantly, with annual double-digit gains falling into the low single-digit range. By the end of 2012, the seed category’s market share had dropped to 13%, down 2% from its 2010 high of 15%.

But in 2013, the seed category regained some of its lost form. For the year, said CropLife 100 survey respondents, seed sales increased 11%, topping $4 billion. As a result, market share for the category grew 1% to 14%.

As for the final of the major categories — custom application — 2013 was also a very good year. According to CropLife 100 retailers, their custom application revenues moved ahead 9% in 2013, topping $1.2 billion. This marked the second year in a row that the category has crossed the $1 billion threshold. Despite this gain, however, the market share for the custom application category stayed at 4%.

Leading Sectors

Besides tracking the major categories, the CropLife 100 survey also asks respondents to describe how their sales went in nine sub-sectors as well. For purposes of the survey, we ask retailers if their revenues in these sectors were up, down or flat compared with those from the prior year. In an average year, seven or eight of the nine tracked sectors have sales increases year-over-year for better than half of the respondents. In this sense, 2013 was average indeed. For the year, more than half of CropLife 100 retailers had sales upticks in eight out of the nine categories. Only traditional seed performed worse than this, with only 35% of respondents seeing an increase in sales in this sector.

Leading the way among these sectors was micronutrients. According to 82% of 2013 CropLife 100 survey respondents, their micronutrient sales grew 1% to more than 5% from 2012. Tied for second among the sectors were adjuvants and crop protection products, which were both up 1% to more than 5% in year-over-year sales for 80% of ag retailers in 2013. Most of the other sector sales for retailers were up in the low 60% to high 70% range (see graph for a more complete breakdown).

Looking ahead to 2014, CropLife 100 ag retailers continue to believe that agricultural fortunes will remain strong. When asked to rank their outlooks for 2014 on a scale of one to 10 (1 being low confidence, 10 being high confidence), 72% of respondents thought the coming year would rate between a seven and a nine. Another 25% believed 2014 would rate between a four and six on the revenue scale.

Grower-customers see things a bit differently, however. According to 2013 CropLife 100 ag retailers, only 68% of their grower-customers rate their outlook for 2014 as “cautiously optimistic.” The remaining 32% say their outlooks for agriculture in 2014 are “somewhat or very pessimistic.”

However, spending at the ag retail level should remain high, particularly when it comes to new construction. When asked how they would characterize their overall expenditure plans for 2014 vs. 2013, 81% of CropLife 100 respondents said their companies plan to spend more or the same amounts on construction and renovation as they did during 2013. Only 19% planned to spend less in this area.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

State of the Industry Stories

Liquid Fertilizer Storage tanks
State of the IndustryComplex Fertilizer Market Brings Mixed Feelings
January 5, 2016
Declining fertilizer prices and plentiful supplies should be good news for growers facing low crop prices. But they and their Read More
Asmus Farm Supply crop protection products in storage
State of the Industry2016 Crop Protection Outlook: The Guessing Game
January 4, 2016
One would naturally assume that retail sales of crop protection products in a contracted market would themselves be contracted, but Read More
Seed corn bags in storage
Special ReportsThe Outlook For Seed In 2016
January 3, 2016
Among all crop input categories going into 2016, the seed category has as many questions regarding which direction it will Read More
Wilbur-Ellis’ new fertilizer blending facility, located in Mott, ND, was designed by A.J. Sackett & Sons.
State of the IndustryBuying Intentions Survey: Retailers Taking A Prudent Approach In 2016
January 2, 2016
The CropLife® magazine Buying Intentions Survey made its debut last year to gauge current industry trends against the retailer’s plans Read More
Trending Articles
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
Retail FacilitiesMarcus Construction Builds High-Speed Agronomy Center For Key Cooperative
July 7, 2016
Key Cooperative in Grinnell, IA, wanted a state-of-the-art Agronomy Center to better serve its customers. Marcus Construction delivered exactly that. Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Latest News
2016 ShowStopper | Case IH Patriot 4440 Sprayer
Equipment5 Show-stopping Products On Display At 2016 MAGIE
August 26, 2016
For 10 years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with voting for Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer: Corn Belt P and K Levels Lagging
August 24, 2016
A new DuPont Pioneer study conducted across 12 Corn Belt states demonstrates that growers may be leaving profit potential in Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsCould a Monsanto-Bayer Union Be 2 Weeks from Fruition?
August 24, 2016
Via STLToday.com (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Merger talks between Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are advancing after a series of Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patrio…
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
EquipmentPride In Professionalism On Display At MAGIE
August 18, 2016
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) is proud to partner with CropLife IRON and continue the tradition of bringing Read More
SprayersJenner Ag To Debut 25th Anniversary Edition Case IH Pat…
August 18, 2016
Visitors at the 2016 Midwest Ag Industries Exhibition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL, will have a unique photo opportunity, as Jenner Read More
Crop InputsEU Glyphosate Controversy Heating Up Yet Again
August 17, 2016
The battle over glyphosate rages on in Europe, creating a lot of question marks over whether the herbicide will continue Read More
Industry NewsNew Partnership Provides Improved Representation At Ohi…
August 16, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has retained Belinda Jones of Capitol Consulting Group, Inc. (CCG) for government relations work in Read More
Tissue testing
FertilizerMosaic: 6 Tips For Better Crop Nutrition In Corn
August 16, 2016
Late in the crop season is a good time to assess visual nutrient deficiencies and ensure early- and mid-season deficiencies Read More
WebinarsWebinar Schedule
August 14, 2016
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDowDuPont Update: EU Takes Closer Look at Merger
August 12, 2016
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face months of haggling with European Union antitrust regulators who opened an in-depth probe Read More