12 June 1998

Agrochem biggest boy

A MERGER between Agrovista, the European distributor which owns UK subsidiary Profarma, and East Anglian-based Crop Care Group has created the UKs largest agrochemical distributor.

Estimated combined turnover is estimated at about £90m, £10m ahead of the nearest rival.

The two companies will retain separate identities, but the move gives Agrovista, which is owned the Marubeni Group, a much-needed push into the UKs core arable area. It also gives Crop Care better access to new technology, says the companys David Caffall.

Profarmas Paul Singleton does not rule out further acquisitions to build on the groups new found strength. For the first time in 30 years, the agrochemical industry is contracting in value, he says.

"Agrochemical prices have, on average, fallen 10% year on year. Cereal fungicides have dropped 14%. Although more product has been applied to a larger wheat area, the industry could still see a 5% cut in gross profits."

He believes price falls will continue, with the UK agrochemical market worth £70m-100m less in three to four years, compared with the beginning of 1997.