Here’s What Driving Growth in the U.S. Micronutrients Market
Constantly changing business conditions create challenges for even the best executives, writes Dan Jacobs at CropLife. Add in a black swan event (COVID) and the planning for the future becomes exponentially more difficult.
CropLife® magazine interviewed several micronutrient providers who shared their insights on the most recent growing season and their expectations for 2024. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag.
“Expectations were exceeded,” Galynn Beer, National Strategy & Product Management Lead, AgroLiquid. “Sales of micronutrients were flat, so it sounds weird for that to result in ending above expectations. Nitrogen started out very elevated in price and a lot of farmers committed to those higher prices to secure supply. We live in a world of tradeoffs, and I feared a higher nitrogen spend might reduce investment in micronutrients. For the most part, farmers still invested in micronutrients.”
Koch Agronomic Services (KAS) saw similar results.
“We have continued to see a strong demand for KAS solutions, such as WOLF TRAX DDP micronutrients, which provides better distribution in the field when compared to traditional granular micronutrients, and PROTIVATE nutritional seed enhancer, which provides a highly concentrated source of nutrients for early season growth, applied directly on the seed,” says TJ Bingham, Technical Agronomist.
The reluctance to spend money and supply chain concerns that dominated the past few years, couple with optimism that accompanied the fading of COVID (or at least fewer worries about the pandemic) has certainly helped the micronutrient segment.
“Mosaic experienced strong demand and increase over 2022 for Aspire and MicroEssentials. Spring exceeded expectations,” says Tom Fry, Director of Performance Products, The Mosaic Co.
Not every company exceeded expectations, however.
“This year’s crop season, we expected micronutrient volume to be slightly higher year-over-year,” says Chuck Anderson, VP and GM, Specialty Liquids, The Andersons. “However, the supply chain had more carry-over inventory going into the season than expected. Additionally, demand was soft, and farmers were slow to engage throughout the season.”
Several factors continue to drive the growth of the market including education and increased efficiency.
“There was still enough supply concern for nitrogen in the fall of 2022 that farmers committed capital to covering that critical input,” AgroLiquid’s Beer says. “But a better understanding of the role of micronutrients stabilized micronutrient sales to a degree. The recognition of value prevented the micros from being on the chopping block. Farmers have learned that micronutrients improve the efficiency of primary nutrients, so it made sense to still invest in micronutrients to help extract value out of the higher priced primary nutrients. It’s sort of like buying a $40 tie to make the $500 suit look better! Elevated prices last fall due to supply concerns with primary nutrients were offset by grower’s increased education on the role of micronutrients.”
Mosaic’s Fry offers another reason for micronutrients’ continued growth.
“Higher commodity prices drove a bullish mindset by growers looking to provide the balanced crop nutrition their crops need to optimize yield and profitability,” he says.