Syngenta fourth-quarter crop protection sales totaled $2.29 billion, up from $2.15 billion a year earlier, driven by growth in seedcare and insecticides and strength in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
The company expects its pending merger with ChemChina to close in the second quarter of 2017.
For selective herbicides, sales growth was driven by Europe, Africa and Middle East and North America. In Europe, AXIAL continued its success on cereals and CALLISTO expanded on corn in Africa and the CIS. In North America the main growth driver was the continued adoption by U.S. growers of the novel corn herbicide ACURON, combining three modes of action and four active ingredients.
In non-selective herbicides, performance reflected the deliberate reduction in solo glyphosate, now complete, undertaken in order to improve profitability. At the same time glyphosate prices continue to decline. Sales of GRAMOXONE were also lower, with volumes in the first half affected by dry weather in ASEAN, and some price pressure from generics in North America.
In fungicides, North America saw good growth as new products ORONDIS and TRIVAPRO (based on SOLATENOL) gained momentum. EAME registered growth for the full year despite a difficult first half, when wet weather resulted in missed sprays; the second half saw a strong recovery, with late season demand in cereals and good demand on specialty crops. Innovation continued to expand the portfolio with the launch in the fourth quarter of ELATUS PLUS in France and MIRAVIS Duo (based on ADEPIDYN) in Argentina.
Insecticides saw growth across the northern hemisphere, with particularly good performances by ACTARA, DURIVO and KARATE. In Brazil, sales were affected by low insect pressure and soybean trait penetration, with channel inventories remaining high. Sales in Asia Pacific, which were affected by drought in the first half of the year, rebounded strongly in the second half.
In seedcare, CRUISER showed good growth in a number of European markets despite limitations on its use for certain crops. Sales in Canada staged a strong recovery, led by the fungicide VIBRANCE, which was more than offset by lower treatment intensity and higher inventory in the USA.
Addressing the pending merger, Syngenta said the companies have made significant progress towards achieving the necessary regulatory approvals and closing the transaction. To date approvals have been achieved from 13 regulatory authorities; approvals are still awaited from Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, India, Mexico and the United States. National security clearance has been granted by CFIUS in the United States.
Chief Executive Erik Fyrwald said, “We saw an encouraging sales performance in the fourth quarter, with regional sales up 7% excluding the non-recurring corn trait royalty received in 2015. Europe showed excellent growth, resulting in a solid performance for the full year despite very adverse weather in the second quarter. Asia Pacific continued its recovery as the effects of El Nino receded. North and Latin America both showed moderate growth excluding the corn trait royalty.”
He added: “Innovation also played an important role in 2016 with a number of new product launches. In the USA, our new corn herbicide ACURON, providing growers with an effective solution for weed resistance, achieved sales of over $200 million. We saw the further geographic expansion of SOLATENOL based fungicides and the registration of ADEPIDYN in Argentina. In Seeds, the unparalleled performance of our VIPTERA trait drove an increase in corn market share in Brazil. These all demonstrate the importance of our investment in R&D, which has been recognized by ChemChina and which will continue under their ownership.”