Seed Competition Heats Up

An article written by Sonja Gjerde and published in Farm Journal magazine, July 2015.

Companies jockey, market share battles continue and Monsanto pursues Syngenta.

The yearly battles for your seed business have been fierce for the past decade as consolidation and biotech fueled DuPont Pioneer’s and Monsanto Company’s dominance in market share. While those two heavyweights duke it out one seed sale at a time, the smaller players push to capture corn and soybean acres.

While all players keep a keen eye on market share, overall industry data is not shared publicly. This marks the fifth year Farm Journal has reported market shares by interviewing consultants, industry executives and other sources to assemble the data. Once the tables are produced, we share the numbers with the companies for accuracy.

Five Years of Seed Market Share: Company/brand consolidations and genetic performance continue to drive changes in seed market shares. One share point of seed corn in the U.S. market in 2014 (90.9 acres at 31,500 planting rate) represents 357,000 standard units of sales at an estimated retail value of $107 million. One share point of soybean seed in 2014 (84.2 million acres at 140,000 planting rate) represents 842,000 standard units of sales at an estimated retail value of $50 million.

The 2015 market share statistics are still being formed at press time. Low commodity prices, acreage shifts and the struggle to get crops in the ground added extra tension in the market.

“In some crops, the biggest source of competition may not come from other seed companies but from the reduction in acres as a result of weak commodity prices,” says Garrett Stoerger, partner at Verdant Partners, LLC, a consulting firm in Champaign, Ill.

Mother Nature was tougher on some parts of the country than others, resulting in larger acreage shifts in certain geographic areas. As a result, companies with a high market share in regions experiencing significant acreage shifts could realize more loss than companies with a lower share.

However, Stoerger believes the biggest drivers in market shifts are product performance, customer service and access to value-added technology.

In 2014, DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto continued to dominate, accounting for 70% of the corn seed business and 60% of the soybean seed business. Monsanto gained market share on both fronts while DuPont Pioneer slipped. See the chart below for other shifts.

Consolidation in the industry continues (see 2015 Seed Family Tree). One notable change: AgReliant acquired Golden Acres Genetics of Waco, Texas. This spreads AgReliant’s footprint further west and adds more corn, sorghum, sudan and forage options to their mix.

One game changer could be Monsanto’s purchase of Syngenta, a move largely met with anxiety. Read about the possible acquisition in “Game-Changing Deal.”

Reprinted with the permission of Farm Journal Media.

Verdant Partners LLC

301 N. Neil Street, Suite 305 | Champaign, Illinois 61820

Phone: +1 (217) 359-8470

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