After several years of disappointing results in the global herbicide market – due primarily to oversupply and intense glyphosate price competition, Bayer CropScience AG is developing a new strategy. Top company officials recently outlined a strategic shift to expand business with high-margin products and new crop traits.
Bayer's aldicarb-based products will be completely phased out by 2014, according to Chairman Friedrich Berschauer. Sales have been buoyed with launches of Tembotrione and Pyrasulfotole herbicides and Spirotetramat and Flubendiamide insecticides.
He also reported continued success with conventional and genetically engineered cotton, canola, rice and vegetables. "We're also expanding our business to include wheat and soybeans," he noted.
Rising demand for bioethanol has helped fuel the company's position in Latin America. "The Brazilian crop protection market has already surpassed the United States as the world's most valuable market," added the CEO. He cited ethanol from sugar cane as the driving force in Brazil.
Bayer also announced a new generation of fungal respiratory chain inhibitors to be launched worldwide in 2012 as a seed dressings. They include Aviator Xpro (cereal crops), Luna (vegetables) and Emesto (potatoes).
Berschauer noted that 18 new products from Bayer's BioScience (seed trait) division would be introduced by 2016. One, a glyphosate-tolerant cotton seed trait called GlyTol will be marketed in the United States next year.
Ag's future role underestimated
Sandra Peterson, Bayer CropScience's incoming chair person, contended that agriculture's contribution to future world needs has been largely underestimated. "There are many unmet needs, the most critical of which is hunger. Almost 1 billion people worldwide go the bed hungry every night.
"By 2050, we will need a second green revolution to help feed the swelling world population which is estimated to reach 9 billion." She believes the crop science industry is a central axis that has the means to successfully drive the global fight against hunger "in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way."
Part of Bayer's plan is to more aggressively pursue acquisitions that accelerate product development. The company also plans to shift to valuing markets further into the marketing channels. It expects to build the value of fruits, vegetables and cereal crops over the next 10 to 15 years – much as the biotech industry has done for corn and soybeans.