By our nature, journalists spend a lot of their time thinking about the future. For example, as most of the world typically celebrates the coming of a new year on January 1, I have already been writing about the new year for several months by this date, with planned stories looking at the upcoming spring season as snow still lays heavy upon the ground outside my office.
Along these lines, CropLife® magazine recently put together an online offering speculating on the near future in terms of several years. Called the PACE Retail 2025 Report, this document took information from industry experts today and projected forward four years to ponder what the ag retail marketplace will look like come 2025. More importantly, it offered some advice on how today’s ag retailers can plan now to still be around in four years’ time.
With this exercise now complete, I started wondering about the ag retailers that make up the annual CropLife 100 listing. How will these look come 2025? Let’s speculate a bit.
The “More Than $200 Million” Group Will Get Bigger. For more than one dozen years, the top of the CropLife 100 has been represented by seven companies that have annual sales in excess of $1 billion. I don’t see this changing come 2025. However, the level just under this grouping — those companies with sales between $200 million and just under $1 billion — will grow significantly. In 2020, there were 13 ag retailers that fell into this sales range. Because of consolidation, I expect this group could easily double in size by 2025.
The Small Will Get More Numerous. As more consolidation takes place among larger members of the CropLife 100, the bottom portion will become populated by smaller ag retailers. I remember 10 years ago or so, an ag retailer needed annual sales in excess of $17 million to rank at the No. 100 position on the CropLife 100. In the 2020 CropLife 100, however, this figure dropped to just under $10 million. By 2025, the No. 100 ag retailer on the list could very well have annual sales of less than $5 million as consolidation among larger players opens up slots on the list.
Middle Companies Will “Disappear.” With the top and bottom of the CropLife 100 changing, the 2025 CropLife 100 might “disappear” — those companies with sales ranging between $51 million and $65 million. In the 2020 rankings, this group was already the second smallest at 11 members. As more mid-sized companies talk mergers, their sales ranges will move them up into the $66 million to $100 million group, leaving fewer members here. In fact, one of the 2020 CropLife 100 ag retailers in this group — No. 63 MaxYield Cooperative — is already engaged in merger talks with another cooperative. By 2025, this group could consists of as few as five companies if current trends remain the same.
So there’s some speculation on what the 2025 CropLife 100 will look like. Keep this column in mind for the next four years and see how close (or far) these predictions were from reality.