If the ag retail marketplace were a board game for fertilizer, the sector would undoubtedly be playing Sorry! For those who might be unfamiliar, Sorry! involves players moving their characters around a board to get to their color-coded home bases. To move, players draw number cards, moving forward the number of spaces indicated.
There are, however, a few cards in the deck that force the player to retreat on the game board — the so-called Backward 4s. Unfortunately, the fertilizer category in 2017 apparently drew a pair of these from the pile.
The first Backward 4 came from market share. At the end of 2016, the fertilizer category represented 45% of all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 retailers with $13.5 billion in sales. But by the close of 2017, this share has retreated 4%, down to only 41%. This represents the lowest percentage held by the category since the start of the 21st century.
A Backward Trend
Of course, from the fertilizer category’s perspective, losing some market share within the CropLife 100 isn’t that big a deal. In fact, the sector still leads in overall market share vs. all the other crop inputs/services represented in the annual CropLife 100 survey with sales of $12.1 billion. However, perhaps a bit more troubling, this sales figure continued a four-year downward trend for the fertilizer category.
For example, in 2013, fertilizer category sales within the CropLife 100 stood at $15 billion. During 2014, this figure dropped $200 million to $14.8 billion. By 2015, another $300 million was shaved off this sales mark, down to $14.5 billion. Last year, the category dropped an additional $1 billion in revenue, hitting a sales mark of $13.5 billion.
And 2017 was more of the same backward trend. For the year, according to the CropLife 100 survey, ag retailers saw their fertilizer sales fall more than 10%, from $13.5 billion in 2016 to $12.1 billion this year.