Rapid growth of biologicals sector drives the need for accurate data

15:04 PM | November 19, 2020 | Alan Bullion and Jonathan Shoham, IHS Agribusiness Intelligence

The crop protection biologicals sector covers both biological control agents (BCAs) for the control of pests, diseases and weeds, better known as biopesticides, and bio-stimulants, which stimulate natural processes in plants to enhance nutrient uptake and efficiency, tolerance to environmental stress and crop quality.

Several important drivers underpin the increasing significance of biologicals and their impact and value in global markets, providing a golden opportunity for business growth in agrochemical companies.

These include:

Lack of new chemistry, especially a dearth of active ingredients with new modes of action

Resistance in weeds, pests and disease organisms to conventional chemical products

Pressure from regulators, food companies and consumers for reduced residues on food

Increasing cost, stringency and time involved in registering chemicals

Environmental pressures and adoption of Intermediate Pest Management methods

Organic food sector opportunities

As a result, over the past decade crop science majors have been playing an increasingly important role in the biologicals sector through both organic growth and acquisition. A significant example was the strategic acquisition of bio-stimulants company Valagro by Syngenta in October, which had an approximate revenue of $175m in 2019.

Driven by this market growth, and the need to provide accurate data to track these trends, the Phillips McDougall Biologicals Database has just been launched. This features over 400 companies, ranging from diversified conglomerates, through vertically integrated agribusiness companies, and agricultural input companies to specialist biologicals companies and start-ups. The vast majority of these companies are small specialist ones, as very few companies operating in the biologicals sector have sales of more than $100m.

Many companies operating in the biologicals sector sell both BCAs and bio-stimulants. This overlap, and the general complexity of the sector, present challenges in understanding and describing it. There are currently some inflated published estimates of the size of the sector and its rate of growth. The objective of our database is to therefore provide a rigorous and detailed understanding and description of the biologicals sector, underpinned and reinforced by primary data.

Around 1,000 biological products and 4,000 brands are included in the database. Products are categorized according to a rigorous taxonomy in which each product is uniquely assigned to one of 20 product classes.

The rate of new product introductions in the biologicals sector has exceeded that for conventional crop protection products for 20 out of the last 30 years. As a result, there are now more biological products on the market (>1000) than there are conventional CP products (ca. 600).

A major reason for this is the lower cost of developing biologicals. Regulatory hurdles are often lower and in the case of bio-stimulants currently no efficacy data is required in many jurisdictions. Technological advances in formulation have also played a part.

In terms of the products launched over the past 4 years, the majority of activity has been in microbial biocontrol, with an increasing contribution from bionematicides to combat a growing resistance problem, which presents a significant market opportunity. New bioacaricides have been launched in fruit and vegetable markets. Increasing commercial activity is also evident for the phage and virus classes.

For further information, please visit https://ihsmarkit.com/Info/1120/biologicals-database.html