If you as a child watched the television program Sesame Street, you might remember that each episode was brought to you by a different letter of the alphabet, writes Eric Sfiligoj on CropLife.com. In a sense, the 2017 ag retail marketplace followed a similar script. But since this was a year-long event, there were actually three letters that led the way.
The Letter C — Consolidation
Although the trend started in earnest during 2016, 2017 will definitely be remembered by many agricultural industry watchers as the year of consolidation. By the end of the year, two of the crop protection industry’s two mega-mergers — Syngenta/ChemChina and DowDuPont — had been completed and the new companies began taking shape. Still to come (hopefully by the end of the 1st quarter of 2018) is the marriage of Bayer and Monsanto. When the dust on all of these transactions takes place, there will be three large mega-corporations where there were once five, with sales ranging from $27 billion (Bayer/Monsanto) to just over $17 billion (DowDuPont).
Along with these mega-moves, the consolidating companies in many instances were forced to divest assets by regulators to complete their deals. Therefore, many of the companies in the “next tier” of crop protection manufacturers gained new products/lines as a result. This included FMC Corp., which purchased a substantial portion of DuPont’s crop protection business and BASF, which entered into a $6 billion agreement to buy crop protection and seed assets from Bayer including LibertyLink traits.
According to V.M. (Jim) DeLisi, Owner of Fanwood Chemical, the reason for all these moves ties back to money, or a lack thereof. “The largest driver of agrochemical mergers is the market price for crops such as corn and soybeans,” said DeLisi. “New product development costs, for both seeds and chemicals, are in the range of $300 million to $500 million. Only the largest companies have the resources and leverage to both finance and then recapture this level of investment.”