Bayer grows its crop bioscience

C&I Issue 18, 2009

Bayer CropScience aims to triple sales in its bioscience business unit to around €1.4bn by 2018. To meet this target, ‘the company is planning to invest some €3.5bn in research and infrastructure for its biotech and seeds business between now and 2018,’ says chairman Friedrich Berschauer, adding that this does not include possible acquisitions. Roughly 27% of sales are currently invested in the development of new bioscience products.

The company’s bioscience unit currently focuses on four core crops: canola, rice, cotton and vegetables, but the intention is to expand this group on a regional basis and include additional crops, including soya beans and cereals.

Bayer plans to launch 14 seed varieties with innovative traits in these core crop groups between now and 2018. In 2010, the company claims it will become the first worldwide to offer cotton seed with built-in tolerance to two leading herbicides: glyphosate and glufosinate-ammonium. This will be followed in 2011, with cotton seed that has protection against the most important insect pests, and in 2012, with cotton varieties that have a so-called ‘double-stack’, producing two different substances against insect pests, as well as the herbicide tolerance.

Conventional crop protection products will not be ignored, and the company has set a target of bringing to market 10 new products, with combined peak sales potential of over €1.25bn, between 2008 and 2018. In 2008, the insecticide spirotetramat and the herbicide pyrasulfotole were launched, while in 2009, regulatory approval has been gained, in some countries, for the herbicide thiencarbazone-methyl in combination with the safener cyprosulfamide. Over the period 2010-11, Bayer plans to launch three fungicides: fluopyram, a pyramide for managing problematic diseases; bixafen, a pyrazole treatment for cereals; and isotianil for rice, and an alkylazine herbicide for agricultural crops and non-agricultural applications, like golf courses and gardens, while three further candidates are in advanced stages of development.

Overall, Bayer CropScience saw its H1 2009 sales rise by 4.8% to just under €4bn, despite unfavourable weather conditions in some of the major growing regions. Geographically, growth in North America, Europe and Asia was driven by products based on new ingredients. Sales of fungicides, however, declined slightly in all regions, due to a lower disease burden. There was a more modest start to Q3, with lower selling prices for wheat and corn, unfavourable weather conditions in Europe and India, and the relatively late start of the season in Argentina, matched by decreasing demand in the US.

On an annual basis, Bayer expects the overall market to continue to grow at 3%/year up to 2018, taking it from €48bn in 2008 to €66bn in 2018. While the company is expecting above average growth of 6%/year in the plant biotechnology sector, crop protection is expected to see more modest growth of 1-2%/year.

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